The Sunwing Flying Start Program, a charitable program created by Toronto-based Sunwing Travel Group, has partnered with Sisters Keeper Elite Basketball and Ontario Basketball to provide school supplies, books and athletic gear to local school children in Montego Bay, Jamaica, to be distributed during the Caribbean Hoop Fest Basketball Tournament.
Caribbean Hoop Fest is a youth-oriented basketball tournament taking places over five days (Aug. 17-22). Teams of high school-aged boys from Canada, the United States, Jamaica and other Caribbean nations compete in the tournament, which organizers say is also intended “to promote positive interaction locally and internationally and to strengthen morale amongst our youth.”
According to the official tournament site “the goal is to bring the global community together with an emphasis on family, sports and entertainment. The Caribbean Hoop Fest will impact many as it strives to promote growth, culture, education and progress through youth basketball.”
Early on the morning of Aug. 15, Sunwing held a “packing party” at their Toronto office where staff did exactly that, packed up all the school bags with the books, school supplies and athletic gear to be donated to the students in Jamaica.
Just prior to the start of the tournament, Sunwing hosts a special basketball clinic for local kids to get some lessons and free giveaways. Members of the Sister Keepers’ Canada Elite team, including Toronto athletes Aaliyah Edwards, Rebecca Demeke, Latasha Lattimore and Shyanne Day-Wilson (also members of Team Ontario), will help conduct the clinic. And the Canada Elite Team is playing against Jamaican U19 Women’s National Team as well as a team of local college players.
The Sunwing Flying Start Program operates under the auspices of the Sunwing Foundation with the goal of ensuring children have the essential supplies they need to help get a good education.
According to the Sunwing Travel Group website, “As part of this commitment, we have launched the Flying Start initiative to provide students at local schools across our destinations all the essential tools and building blocks for a successful education. The program collects new and gently-used books and Sunwing Airlines flies them down to schools in need of such materials. We also have a campaign where children are provided with a new backpack filled with all the essentials needed for a productive day at school.”
Sisters Keeper was created to help youth within some of Toronto’s most vulnerable neighbourhoods. According to the organization’s website, they give “young women the opportunity to further develop their skills in basketball but to also steer these young women to be contributing individuals within their community.”
Team Ontario features some of the top young male and female basketball players in the province in the Under-15 and Under-17 categories.
Between all three organizations approximately 90 Canadian students will be participating in Hoop Fest and flying down with the Canadian Elite players and material for the Jamaican students.
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