Bolt pledges $1 million for kids displaced by fire at Walker's Place of Safety

Thursday, January 18, 2018

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JUST as quick as he has been on the track, Jamaica's sprint legend Usain Bolt wasted no time in pledging $1 million, through his foundation, to assist children displaced by an early morning fire at Walker's Place of Safety in St Andrew Tuesday morning.

The Usain Bolt Foundation, which was established in 2011, targets children in need.

Chairman of the foundation, Winsome Wilkins, said Bolt was moved by the tragedy at the home, which saw two wards of the State being killed and another 34 displaced.

She said that the Foundation, which is dedicated to the legacy of happy children and to enhance their educational and cultural development, was chosen by Bolt as the best vehicle through which he would show his support for those who have suffered.

Wilkins said preparations were being made to have the donation handed over early next week to the Child Development Agency by Bolt.

In the meantime, the Child Protection and Family Services Agency (CPFSA) said yesterday that 34 children affected by the fire have been relocated to three residential childcare facilities in the Corporate Area. The children, who were accompanied by social workers and their caregivers, were also receiving counselling, the agency said.

“Regrettably, two of our children who were unaccounted for perished in the fire. The CPFSA expresses sincere condolences to the families and friends of the deceased children. The agency continues to work with the families of all affected children through scheduled group therapy sessions,” the agency said in a release.

It expressed gratitude to the Shiloh Apostolic Church for agreeing to house the children and caregivers in the aftermath of the fire. “Thank you to members of the public for their generous contributions and sympathies as we begin the rebuilding process,” the agency said.

The agency has, meanwhile, asked the public for non-perishable food items, clothing, educational supplies and personal care items for the affected little ones. Drop-off locations are open at the following locations from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm daily:

• 40 Duke Street, Kingston;

• 48 Duke Street, Kingston;

• 12 Carlton Crescent, Kingston 10, or any other CPFSA offices islandwide.

The Government said following the fire Tuesday that it would be reviewing the policies and procedures surrounding the management of childcare facilities.

Walker's Place of Safety was in operation for over 45 years, and was home to 36 children between the ages of 2-18 years, who have been abandoned or removed from their homes because of unstable conditions. It also provided food and shelter, along with access to educational services and health care.

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