PHILIPSBURG, Sint Maarten — The Funtopia Youth Initiative Foundation’s Stilt walking training After-school program in collaboration with UNESCO is off to a great start. After a successful run of the pilot program with 32 participating students last school year, the foundation has started to implement the program in more schools to accommodate more students.
Registration began in August where general request emails were sent to all primary schools for their management teams and school boards to respond if their school was interested in participating in the program. Those schools that expressed interest were given an opportunity to have a live demonstration given by lead stilt walk trainer Quair Hodge for the students to see first-hand what they will learn from the program. After which, students received registration forms from their respective class teachers for their parents to sign them up for the workshop.
President of the Funtopia Youth Initiative, Lucinda Audain said, “We are happy to report that we currently have a total of 129 students registered for the program. During our pilot program we worked with students from ages 6 to 11 from the Sister Borgia, St. Jospeh and Oranje school. This school year, we are happy to be working with the aforementioned schools once again, in addition to students from the Sister Magda, Martin Luther King, MAC School (Browlia F. Maillard campus) and both campuses of the Hillside Christian Schools. In addition, we have increased our age limit to accommodate students from ages 5 to 12. Our aim is to work with 30 students from each school. Interested parents can still register their children at the administration offices of the participating schools.”
With this program, we hope to capture the hearts and minds of the students as they gain insight in West African cultural heritage, Caribbean history, and understanding the art of stilt walking and Moko Jumbie culture. The program also promotes fitness as it is a physically challenging activity. Participating students are taught discipline through instruction while obedience and respect are expected in return as they learn the importance of the art form. It goes without saying that the program offers a great amount of fun and enjoyment as the students learn to dance, perform stunts and play adaptive sports on the stilts. Through collaboration with UNESCO, this program is provided to the schools at no cost so that it is free for students of all socioeconomic backgrounds to participate.
As we expand our program we are hoping to get assistance from the business community or individuals to be able to provide each student with a pair of stilts so that they can comfortably train. UNESCO has financed the making of 10 additional stilts to add to the program, however our aim is to have 30 pairs of stilts at each school. The foundation is open for accepting raw material such as 2×4 lumber, ply form, bolts, screws, Velcro rolls and sneakers in order to construct new stilts to facilitate the participating students. For more information on how you can help please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org .