A Safe Place to Play in Jamaica
For more than seven years Amizade has partnered with the Association of Clubs (AOC) in Petersfield, Jamaica. Amizade is proud of our continued relationship with the AOC and the lasting connections our volunteers make with that community. We were saddened to hear the tragic news that a young boy, Nicholas Hamilton, was killed while playing on a heavy goal post. Nicholas was a young, bright boy who often participated in the AOC activities such as the annual summer camp where Amizade volunteers serve.
In response to this incident, Matthias Brown, Amizade’s site director in Jamaica and the AOC’s facilitator, wrote the following letter to the editor of the local newspaper:
As Chairman of the Coke’s View Primary School Board and one who believes in the safety and well being of our children, I regret the tragic and unfortunate circumstance under which young Nicholas Hamilton died while some boys where trying to lift a goal post off the ground.
The Goal Post involved in the incident weighs over five hundred pounds and is often used in the evenings by young footballers in the community after the school is dismissed. It was once discovered that some students were climbing, walking and swinging upside down from the crossbar in a game they called “Heads down endurance”. Because of the risk of injury from falling from the crossbar, it was decided that the post be put in a horizontal position, flat on the ground after use by the footballers. To erect the post, it would take approximately ten adults to lift it off the ground.
After the students returned from the Christmas holiday break, they found the post lying down. Some of these boys with their usual passion for playful activities, couldn’t resist having the post to play on. On Monday of the second week of school, these boys decided to do the impossible of lifting the post. They only succeeded to lift it partway, as the weight was too much for them. It fell from them and hit young Nicholas Hamilton who was passing under it at the time. Reportedly, they tried to lift the goal post off him but it fell from them again and this time, hit Nicholas on the head.
But why were these students so passionate about their playing activities? Ninety percent of the students at Coke’s View Primary are former students from 4 Early Childhood Institutions (ECI) in surrounding communities, one of which is adjoining the Coke’s View Primary. These ECIs are equipped with outdoor playing equipment such as Swings, Slides, See Saws, Climbing Bars, etc…which were donated to these schools by the Association of Community Based Organizations Parenting Programme through funding from the Environmental Foundation of Jamaica (EFJ).
Regrettably, the Coke’s View Primary has no such playing equipment and the students have had to be creative in making their own props for play. As it is well known, play activity is a critical component of the learning and socialization process and should not be discounted in the delivery of education. On the other hand, the Galloway ECI which is separated from Coke’s View Primary only by a perimeter fence, has an extensive supply of playing equipment which the students of Coke’s View have always hoped that they could one day have for themselves.
The accident that led to the death of Nicholas Hamilton was partly the result of the student fateful attempt to find something to play with in the absence of proper facility. It is in this regard that we seek the assistance and support of any person or organization that can provide some of these well needed equipment.
As we strive to review and improve our security arrangement to protect our students, we hope that there will be no recurrence of a tragedy such as this, and we further hope that the public’s generous response will help to immortalize the memory of young Nicholas Hamilton while improving the welfare of his fellow peers.
While we grieve for Nicholas, his family, and the community, we implore you, our friends and alumni for support. We ask you to help us bring safe and appropriate playground equipment to the children of Petersfield. Click here to donate directly to the A Safe Place to Play fund.
In the words of Matthias, “Every mikkle mek a mukkle” meaning, “every little will add up to many”, so whatever you can give is good enough.