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Kingston, Jamaica, September 24, 2021 – Having started its rollout in a few select schools in August of this year, other schools within Jamaica’s wider early childhood education system will soon have access to the Graphogame literacy app. Developed by linguists, neuropsychologists, and speech pathologists, Graphogame is the most-researched educational game, with proven efficacy in achieving basic literacy, equal to 1-to-1 teacher support, among children in the 4-9 age groups.

The app is a generous gift to Jamaican school children from Winsome Wishes for KIDS (WWKIDS) in NY, with the assistance of the United States-based Windward Institute. In Jamaica, the Issa Trust Foundation has generously partnered with WWKIDS for the app rollout and the attendant nationwide awareness campaign.
“The pilot rollout in Jamaica has demonstrated that this app can play a very important role in bridging gaps in our early childhood education system, which are now widening as a result of COVID-19,” said Simone Sobers, Founder of WWKIDS. “It is interactive, intuitive, and user friendly, and best of all, it is free. Once downloaded, it can be played without connectivity and data, which is significant at a time when children may have increased access to devices through several governmental and private sector initiatives, but still lack connectivity and have no access to data,” she continued.
The Issa Trust Foundation has expressed excitement at the rollout of the Graphogame in Jamaica. “This initiative is in clear alignment with our mission of community-building, providing resources for children to have access to education and promoting and improving health care and other services that increase the well-being and development of Jamaica. We are eager to get it in the hands of all children because we know that education is the foundation on which they will build the rest of their lives. We are happy to play a part in ensuring that this foundation is secure,” said Diane Pollard, President, and CEO of the Issa Trust Foundation.

The Graphogame app will be available as a free-to-download application in Jamaica, on iOS, Microsoft, and Android App Stores, starting in October. The donation of the app is a continuation of the work that WWKIDS has been doing in Jamaica over the last eighteen (18) months, which includes virtual workshops for teachers in Jamaica, and the donation of devices to schools and children in need.
We need your help! Currently, we are collecting tablets and donations to use towards purchasing new tablets. Any contribution is welcomed, and on behalf of the children who will be benefitting, we thank you for your generosity!
SUPPORT US EVERY TIME YOU SHOP ON AMAZON
AMAZONSMILE
Do you like shopping online? We would love your support! When you shop at AmazonSmile, Amazon donates 0.5% of the purchase price to Issa Trust Foundation. Bookmark the link http://smile.amazon.com/ch/54-2173857 and share it with your network to support us every time you shop on Amazon. We thank you and the children thank you!
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Win A 5 Night Getaway at a Couples Resort of your choice! Enter by August 12th. Please join us in supporting the Issa Trust Foundation’s ONE LOVE SUMMER campaign, now through August 12th.  Live drawing will be held on Saturday, August 14th. Your donations will go towards school supplies, critical medical equipment and supplies. We hope you will join us in showing and sharing your love for Jamaica! FOR EVERY US $50.00 DONATION, YOU WILL BE ENTERED TO WIN A GETAWAY FOR TWO AT A COUPLES RESORT OF YOUR CHOICE. Enter to win: Go to https://bit.ly/2EVNmgA to donate US $50.00 Learn more about Couples Resorts: https://couples.com/
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Stephen ‘Cat’ Coore shares a message and an appeal to corporations and organizations to give what support you can to the Issa Trust Foundation:

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2013 was the first year our Lions of Michigan Vision Mission Team partnered with the Issa Trust Foundation to bring much needed vision care to the school children of Jamaica. Lions Clubs International is the largest service organization in the world with 1.4 million members in 209 countries, with a worldwide mission of “We Serve”.

Our Lions Vision Mission team was started in 1992 by Dr. Dennis Cobler, initially making a yearly mission to Central America. Eyeglasses are collected by Lion’s members throughout the State of Michigan and brought to our recycling center. Here, every pair of glasses is inspected for damage or scratches and the “keepers” are washed, dried and then measured for their prescription. The unusable glasses are sent to a recycling center where the plastic and metal are completely recycled. Nothing is wasted. The clean/measured glasses are placed in a plastic bag with the prescription inscribed on a label. These prescriptions are then entered in our computer database and then each bag is given a number before it is packed in a box in numerical order. These glasses are then shipped to the mission site.

On the mission site, the patients have their eyes screened by an auto-refractor that measures their prescription and eye alignment objectively. The patient then sees the eye doctor, using this electronic screening as a starting point and then further examining the patient’s eyes for more precise prescription needs and complete eye health.

If glasses are needed, the prescription is entered into the computer program and the closest used glasses we have to that prescription are given to the patient. The glasses are adjusted on each patient’s head along with education on when to wear them and how to care for the glasses. If we do not have glasses close to the proper prescription, we have the patient select a new frame and we have the glasses made in the US. The finished, brand new glasses are then sent back to the patient through the Issa Trust Foundation.

During non-COVID times, we collect 500,000 of used glasses a year. Lions’ volunteers collect the glasses and perform all the recycling duties in a weekly session at the recycling center.

Our mission team to Jamaica usually consist of 4-6 Lions Optometrists and up to 10 more Lions volunteers that do the preliminary testing, computer operations and dispensing the glasses to the patients.

In Jamaica, we examine school age children from 1st grade through high school. We try to examine 200-300 students a day for 4 days. In the 9 missions we have made with the Issa Trust foundation, we have examined almost 7,200 patients and provided 1,750 pairs of glasses.

Issa Trust Foundation, headed by Diane Pollard, is the invaluable teammate that makes this all possible. Diane coordinates all the mission sites where we work, whether it is right in the school or at a local church. Diane obtains permission from all the student’s parents for us to examine them and coordinates with the teachers and administrators to schedule the students into our makeshift clinic. Diane also facilitates all the paperwork required by the Jamaican government for us to operate with our professional licenses in the country and the volunteer permits required. The Issa Trust Foundation transports our used glasses into Jamaica and secures them and our equipment before our arrival. Finally, our safe travel to and from the airport, the mission sites and our accommodations in country all are provided by the Issa Trust Foundation.
From the very nearsighted student that could only see three inches from his face clearly, to the very farsighted student that could not count their fingers in front of their face, we provide much needed eyecare for the students of Jamaica. We use vision for 80% of what we learn. The future is positively different for Jamaican students because of the partnership between the Issa Trust Foundation and the Lions of Michigan Vision Mission Team.

If you would like to help the vision mission initiative, used eyeglasses can be sent in boxes of any size to:

Lions of Michigan Eyeglass Recycling
4060 29th Str. SE
Grand Rapids, MI 49512

In Service and Friendship,
Lion Dr. Gary Anderson
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The National Health Fund (NHF) has received pharmaceutical drugs valued at US$900,000 geared towards boosting inpatient and outpatient care across Jamaica. This contribution to the country’s health system was made possible by Direct Relief in partnership with the Issa Trust Foundation.
Read Full Article Here
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From the very first moment we set foot in Jamaica we were awestruck with the beauty of the island, its culture, vibe and most of all the warmth of its people.

Like many, our early visits were pretty much confined to soaking up the sunshine, tranquility and taking in the laid-back vibe of the beautiful resorts on the island. We discovered Couples Resorts on our second trip to the island and, from that moment, we knew we had discovered something truly unique and special – a place that we would long to return to year after year for over 15 years now. Our desire to return to this incredible slice of heaven only intensified as the years went on often returning “Home” two, sometimes even three, times a year when possible. Being an avid photographer, my visual senses often would go into overdrive during our trips as it seemed everywhere I turned or looked there was something of beauty or interest that I felt compelled to capture for personal remembrances and to share with others. My eyes were fascinated by the ever-shifting light, color and natural beauty within the resorts. Capturing it all became somewhat of an obsession and it seemed at times I could barely walk 20 feet without having to stop and take a picture often times much to the dismay of my wife…thanks for being patient and supportive of my passion over the years, Deb.

As time went on, we began stepping outside the gates of the resort, at first just to visit some of the local eating establishments and attractions. Never did I imagine these first experiences outside the gates would lead to an ever-greater desire to explore and capture what I now think of as the “real” Jamaica. I found with each trip a yearning to go deeper into the country to explore the natural beauty, see its people as they really live and to learn more about their culture and customs. This desire ultimately culminated in an all-day adventure exploring beautiful coastlines and coastal towns before turning inward to go through the back roads, mountains and interior of Jamaica between Negril & Ochi. What an awakening that trip was for us. My (our) perspective of Jamaica forever changed on that day, not only from how much natural beauty existed outside the walls of the resorts in the countryside, but also a realization and appreciation for the simpleness and challenges of life outside the place we all call paradise and home. Yet perhaps one of the greatest impressions left upon our minds from that adventure was a realization that there is truly genuine warmth and an almost unbreakable spirit of optimism and hope in the people of Jamaica despite many having so little. It’s hard to explain, but, in what so many might see as difficulty and sadness, we witnessed so much happiness and gratitude for life and family.

Over the years prior to my involvement with the Issa Trust Foundation, we had developed several deep personal relationships and connections with some in Jamaica. Real relationships built on mutual respect for each other that last to this day. We have been welcomed into their homes to meet and celebrate with their family & friends and they have, likewise, been welcomed into ours. We have prepared meals together, sitting at the same table with their children and, likewise, they have here with our children, grandchildren and friends. We have been invited to join in celebrations of life & death and have always been welcomed by so many with open, loving arms. This is the true spirit and warmth of the Jamaican people we have come to know. It is these early relationships and experiences that surely helped form a foundation of understanding, awareness and compassion that would eventually prepare the way for my involvement with the Issa Trust Foundation.

Perhaps no other event would more dramatically influence and change the course of my personal destiny than a chance meeting of two other resort guests who were planning to take school supplies to the children through the Couples / Issa Trust Foundation School Excursion Program. I was fascinated by their eagerness and sense of responsibility and grateful for the invitation to join them. The next day, with camera in hand, I boarded a bus with them and several others and set off into the hills outside of Ocho Rios to get a firsthand view of school life of the children of Jamaica. We spent several hours together touring the school, speaking with teachers and administrators, sitting in classrooms with the children as they did their lessons. I remember being completely overwhelmed by the stark contrast of my own school life as a child as compared to theirs and how very little the students and teachers seemed to have in terms of resources, equipment, supplies & facilities and how antiquated or broken everything seemed to be that they did have. It was like stepping back in time…way back in time. My eyes and heart would soon become filled with joy as the children exploded out of the classrooms into the courtyard for recess / lunch, almost seeming oblivious to us as they darted about us with so much enthusiasm and happiness going about their business. Girlfriends walking arm in arm while groups of boys chased each other around the courtyard, everyone gathering at the community drinking fountains to quench their thirsts and interact before darting or skipping off elsewhere. I remember thinking to myself children are children everywhere…. their eyes wide open to the world, full of happiness, wonderment and hope. I couldn’t help but wonder what might become of them in time when they would one day face the harsh realities and challenges of their world that lay ahead which for now seemed so distant in their minds. I will never forget their initial shyness, their ultimate curiosity and their eventual openness to us being amongst them. It’s such an incredible feeling when you earn a one child’s trust and suddenly find yourself surrounded by so many smiling curious little faces. I still carry that same feeling of joy with me to this day every time I get to go see them. It was during these moments here that I took my very first of what would eventually become many thousands of photos of the children of Jamaica, and it was here that I first became familiar and appreciative of the amazing work being done by the Issa Trust Foundation. I would leave this experience with the children with an even greater consciousness of the struggles of others and a greater appreciation of who and what the Foundation is and does for the children and people of Jamaica. Thank you, Elizabeth & Steve, for your humanity and opening my eyes on that day and for your ongoing amazing friendship.

Upon my return home, I reviewed and processed the photographs I had taken and thought the images might be useful in helping tell the story of the Foundation so I reached out to Diane Pollard, President and CEO of the Issa Trust Foundation asking if she might be able to put them to some good use. She gratefully accepted them. With this first experience with the children and Foundation still fresh in my mind, a short while later I learned of an upcoming Vision Mission and reached back out to Diane asking if I could volunteer my photography skills to help capture the event. Mission budgetary constraints however at the time did not afford for her to offer me that opportunity. I so deeply wanted to be part of the amazing work being done that I decided I would reach back out to Diane again and offer to pay my own way and expenses to be a part of the effort. I am so very thankful she decided to accept my offer. Thus, began what has been an incredible 5+ year journey and friendship with one of the most inspiring motivated persons I have ever had the privilege to meet and work with.

It would be impossible in such limited space to speak of all the incredible and emotional experiences of the many medical, educational, vision, and general humanitarian related missions I have been on with the Issa Trust Foundation since that moment. So let it suffice to say a picture is worth a thousand words and I hope I have served the Foundation well in this capacity of helping them visually convey the needs of the children and people of Jamaica as well as assembling and sharing the extraordinary visual stories of the Foundation’s humanitarian efforts. I am truly incredibly blessed and fortunate to be a part of such an amazing organization and cause.

Without a doubt, these have been some of the most gratifying and fulfilling moments of my life. I am in constant awe of all the amazing people I have had the privilege to meet and work with on this incredible journey. So many unsung heroes who give so generously and unselfishly of their time and / or resources to make life a just a little better for others. It is an honor to call so many of them dear friends. I encourage you all, no matter what cause you choose to support, to consider being a force of positive change in the lives of others less fortunate. Reach out, volunteer your time, your skills, your knowledge and your resources for the betterment of the next person. I assure you no matter how slight the gesture of kindness it can come back to you tenfold and change your life in ways you could never imagine possible and most certainly result in a change in the lives of others forever.

God willing, I will be back in person as soon as we are able, to continue documenting the good work of the Issa Trust Foundation, Couples Resorts, the Issa family, Diane Pollard and all of the amazing people of the Foundation who so generously give of their time and all of you who contribute to the well-being of the children and people of Jamaica.

With utmost respect and gratitude. One love.

Chris Panetta, Photographer/Videographer
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The Issa Trust Foundation (ITF) on Saturday handed over personal protective equipment and medical equipment valued at US$286,529 (approximately J$40 million) to the North East Regional Health Authority (NERHA) in a ceremony at Couples Tower Isle hotel. Read full article here.
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THE CHILDREN IN JAMAICA NEED TABLETS TO CONTINUE THEIR EDUCATION

Please join us in supporting the Issa Trust Foundation’s tablet campaign, now through February 24th. Live drawing will be held on February 25th. Your donation will go towards providing 40 tablets for each resort. so that the children of the employees can continue down the path of education. $150.00 will sponsor one tablet for a child. We also invite you to encourage family, friends, and companies to consider sponsoring a tablet!

FOR EVERY US $50.00 DONATION, YOU’LL BE ENTERED TO WIN A GETAWAY FOR TWO AT A COUPLES RESORT OF YOUR CHOICE. Here is how you enter to win:
  1. 1. Go to our Donate Now on the website and at least US $50.
  2. 2. We’ll announce the winner during our live drawing on February 25th.

*All bookings subject to availability. Certain blackout dates apply. Airfare not included. Limited between March 1, 2021 to March 1, 2022.

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Our focus on the health of our less fortunate citizens goes to the heart of mankind’s need to nourish the soul by caring for the bodies of our suffering brothers and sisters. Read more in our newsletter here.
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The legendary Third World band can add Goodwill Reggae Ambassadors to their resume. The group was recently signed by the Issa Trust Foundation – the non-profit arm of Couples Resorts Jamaica. In making the announcement, Diane Pollard, president and CEO, stated, “It is fitting that, on the anniversary of last year’s very successful fundraising concert, ‘An Evening with Air Supply and Third World’ featuring Koffee, that the hosts of the event, the Issa Trust Foundation, is announcing that the legendary Third World has come on board as Goodwill Reggae Ambassadors for the foundation as they continue the work being done to enrich the lives of children in Jamaica.”…   Full Article Here
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