BY: DELLIA RISMAY
It’s widespread knowledge that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but countless children around the world come from families who simply cannot afford to provide it. For a child, this means that they aren’t getting the vital energy and nutrition they need in order to start their day and be productive and engaged in school. Devon Wells, Director of Smile Kids Grenada, witnessed the need for a breakfast program on the island firsthand. “One day, I was heading to work, around 7 or 8 in the morning, and a child around seven years old came and asked for a dollar. My question to him was ‘Why aren’t you in school or getting ready for school?’ And he said his mom had nothing, his brother didn’t have anything to give to them, so he had to stay home…I gave him the money and I got back and I said, ‘You know what? We have to do something about this,’” Devon recalls. He brought the idea for the program to his wife, Kay, and in January of this year, they began a pilot project that brings breakfast twice a week to primary school students at St. Andrew’s Roman Catholic School, the school Devon attended as a child. The program was met with such warmth that by the second day, students arrived early to class, prepared with bowls and spoons that they brought from home.
Devon says that although there are likely many children across the island that do not have the ability to come to school on a full stomach, it is what he calls a ‘blind-eye’ issue, meaning it’s not something that is easily spotted by others. ‘There are many kids that go to school here in Grenada and they have nothing to eat,” Devon says. “It’s not a big problem that’s out there in the public. We want to bring it to the forefront.” With the success of the program’s launch at St. Andrew’s, Devon and Kay are hoping to expand the program to primary school children all around the island, starting with students in kindergarten to grade three at a few more schools in September of this year. Eventually, the goal is to have a Smile Kids program not just across Grenada, but in other Caribbean countries as well. “However far Smile Kids can go, that’s where we would love for people to start a movement of Smile Kids,” says Devon.
Ultimately, the goal of Smile Kids Grenada is to help children enjoy a healthy breakfast as they may not have been able to do so at home, but it is more than that. Devon and Kay aim to set children up for success in their studies. “If you don’t have a good morning start, you cannot perform well during your activities during the day. Sometimes we wonder why kids are not performing well—they’re acting up, they’re not having good grades, and sometimes it’s as key as being hungry. And many of them don’t say anything. But we can heal that problem, and eventually, you’ll see kids starting to do better. If we can nurture them and adapt that behavior to have breakfast, to have something to eat early in the morning, you’ll definitely see a change in their subjects and their physical activities. They’ll want to perform more,” Devon explains.
To help Smile Kids Grenada provide children with “a good start so they can have a strong finish” by continuing to supply healthy breakfasts to children in Grenada, donations can be made at smilekidsgrenada.com, or by calling 416-795-6343.