Sandals is undoubtedly one of the most recognizable resort brands on the planet. We’ve all seen the commercials, and many of our clients have enjoyed the incredible experience of a Sandals vacation with it’s beautiful resorts, pristine beaches, amazing food, fun and stellar service. But what many people don’t know is that Sandals resorts is more than just sun, fun and romance…they have a strong belief in giving back to the Caribbean people who are the heart and soul of the islands where they’re located.
The Sandals Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Sandals Resorts International, marks the continued celebration of its fifth anniversary with the reveal of a compelling new video. Created to bring awareness to the Sandals Foundation’s cause in a cinematic form, the video was shot entirely on location in Jamaica by famed director, Gil Green. Entitled the“Soles of Our Youth,” the 3 ½ minute short film hopes to raise awareness, create attention, and bring in needed funding to support the multitude of programs and initiatives the 501(c)(3) reinforces within Jamaica, Antigua, Saint Lucia, The Bahamas, The Turks & Caicos Islands, Grenada and this winter, Barbados.
While the Caribbean is best known for picturesque sunsets, white-sand beaches and dramatic ocean landscapes, the region is also socially vulnerable. Director Gil Green was able to capture a clear vision of both worlds filming at Sandals Foundation’s adopted schools and community centers, a football field, marine sanctuaries, local beaches as well as at several Sandals Resorts in Ocho Rios, Montego Bay, and Whitehouse, Jamaica. On hand was Heidi Clarke, the Sandals Foundation’s Director of Programs, to give an insider’s perspective of the Foundation’s core pillars — education, community, and environment – from a genuine and raw perspective. Specific programs featured include: Project Sprout – early childhood development, Care for Kids Scholarships, Cricket & Golf Academies, and Reading Road Trip – the Foundation’s weekly voluntourism program. Healthcare initiatives and youth engagement through sports, mentorship, and environmental stewardship are also high on the Foundation’s priority list.
Adam Stewart, President of the Sandals Foundation and CEO of Sandals Resorts International, sought the expertise of Gil Green after viewing the NBA’s Miami Heat 2013 Player Intro which Green directed. Stewart was also impressed by Green’s extensive list of music videos and commercials which have earned him award-winning status. Coincidentally, Green’s innate love for Caribbean music, food and overall culture set the platform and tone for the unique partnership. “This new video showcases a feeling of responsibility, community, and hope that the Sandals Foundation shares for the Caribbean. While most tourists may have a perception of sunny days and blissful beaches, this film portrays a Caribbean world that is more true to its citizens; we showcased how the Sandals Foundation is tackling many of those challenges with the hopes of a brighter Caribbean,” Green reflects.
Also celebrating its third year is the Sandals Foundation Reading Road Trip initiative, a unique “voluntourism” opportunity for guests of Sandals Resorts and Beaches Resorts to engage with local children in the community by reading books and practicing reading comprehension activities. Since its launch in 2011 with just 200 trips, the Reading Road Trip has now seen more than 5,000 trips to date, allowing the Foundation to increase the provision of new books for the program and hire a new teacher at a primary school in Jamaica.
In anticipation for the 2014-2015 school year, the Sandals Foundation purchased new books in keeping with the theme, “Books that Help and Heal”, which will be introduced to the children through the literacy program at 16 Sandals Foundation-adopted schools across the Caribbean. The books not only teach moral lessons, but also encourage the development of positive characteristics including the respect for people and the environment, honesty and how to be a team player.
“We are so grateful to all those who go on the Reading Road Trip as they continue to help us make huge in roads to improving literacy across the Caribbean, says Sandals Foundation Director of Program, Heidi Clarke. “Through the funds from this past year’s program, we have been able to employ a full time teacher at King’s Primary whose focus will be primarily on assisting children who are below their age appropriate reading levels.”
The Reading Road Trip is available for guests of Sandals Resorts and Beaches Resorts throughout the Caribbean and takes place every Thursday. The tour allows visitors to spend time with children at primary and early childhood schools and lend literacy support by bringing new or gently-used reading materials, and having the opportunity to read or aid in comprehensive programs. The Reading Road Trip is available in Jamaica, the Bahamas, Antigua, Saint Lucia, Turks and Caicos and Grenada.
Have questions about the Sandals Foundation, the Reading Road trip or what you can bring with you on your next Sandals vacation to donate to the local schools? Just call or email me!