OVERSEAS-based Guyanese Janice Hall left Guyana many moons ago but never for a second forgot about her country and its people. “I’m Guyanese at heart,” she says. Determined to make a difference in the lives of children here, she finally found the right time, four years ago, to pursue We Are GUTSY Inc., a Not-for-Profit Organisation registered in New Jersey, USA.
“I really feel that if someone can assist, they should,” Hall told Pepperpot Magazine a few days ago. She’s currently on a visit to Guyana to distribute tablets to children in various schools and to launch a website with resource materials that cater not only to children, but to their parents and teachers as well.
Hall, who is from Albouystown and then later Alberttown, recognised that even as her parents did the best for her as a child, other well-meaning individuals also helped to shape her character. In fact, without such persons, she feels that life would have been very different for her today.
“It’s always at the back of my mind that there are a number of children who may never have the opportunity to be nurtured into responsible adults. I’ve made mistakes in life and I have always been able to pull myself out of it, but for those children who don’t have the opportunity, I would like to help them in some way,” she shared.
Even as her organisation heavily focuses on building character development, it seeks to help children in practical ways. In one of its most recent initiatives, a fund-raising activity was organised in which it managed to raise US$10,000 that Hall said they used to purchase the tablets. She has so far identified six schools to benefit from the initiative and is seeking to go through the Ministry of Education to further her initiatives.
The website, to be launched tomorrow (July 27), will serve as the central platform for the educators involved with We Are GUTSY, and will be called The GUTSY Backyard. The educators will have a place where they can feel free to interact with one another, as well as the GUTSY Trainers, in sharing their successes and challenges, offering solutions, and developing creative ideas to integrate into their professional practice. Here, they will have access to a variety of supports built into the website that will constantly be growing.
Explaining more about the initiative, she said: “We have developed a website which the students in the schools, their parents and teachers will be able to access resource materials. We hope to engage the families in the programme. In July, we start virtually with the teachers and parents, and then we return in August with trainers, who are highly qualified teachers. We hope to engage as many schools as possible.”
Hall, a realtor, volunteers her time and efforts along with a Board of Directors; all funds raised go towards their mission in Guyana. “We are self-funded, meaning that we are volunteers; this is our labour of love. But we’re hoping other organisations will join us so we can do even more.”
Committed to contributing to the improvement of the life trajectories and outcomes for children living in Guyana, We Are GUTSY, Inc. is an official member of the Character Counts Coalition housed at Drake University, Iowa – a global initiative that seeks to transform lives and strengthen communities by improving civility through character development and ethical leadership.
Apart from Hall, the founder and President of the Board of Directors, the team comprises directors and trainers who develop curricula for children and caregivers, including educators and parents in Guyana. It includes Dr Dana Mason, Lead Trainer; Dr Aileen Castro, Trainer; Dr Trevin London, Trainer; Renate Perry, Trainer (Grade 5 teacher, Stella Maris Guyana); Larenza Hernandez, Trainer (lecturer, CPCE & Preparatory level teacher, Stella Maris Guyana); Dr. Rose October, Trainer/Social Worker; Dr Mylissa Bauman, Adviser Curriculum Development; and Dr Ruth Cummings, Adviser, Curriculum Development.
We Are GUTSY implemented a summer programme in Guyana during August 2019 in collaboration with educators, social workers, caregivers, and volunteers with a focus on youths. Since then, the team has utilised every opportunity to engage virtually with its audiences in Guyana, including over 100 teachers in Region Four in a two-day workshop.
The team seeks to align with the Education Ministry’s Education Sector Plan 2021-2025, to enhance tolerance and modernise the education system.