When CIBC FirstCaribbean answered the call to partner with the educational sector to promote reading as part of Reading Month (May) 2019, the bank took the opportunity to endorse and amplify the message of healthy dietary choices using the literary work of a Saint Lucian Early Childhood Learning (ECL) professional.
Over the past three years, The Early Childhood Learning community in Saint Lucia has embraced the Chief Tree character and his message to preschoolers about the importance of wholesome and healthy nutrition for holistic development. The Chief Tree initiative was developed by an ECL specialist Petra Auguste and is packaged as a storybook with accompanying colouring book for children, and a training manual for teachers. It emphasizes its key messages in a fun and motivating way, causing young children to gravitate towards more fruits and vegetables, which in turn would influence their peers, as well as the shopping and cooking choices of the adults who prepare their meals.
On Friday May 31st, armed with donations of story-books, colouring books and fruit hampers to demonstrate and reinforce Chief Tree’s message, the bank’s reading teams visited the Castries Anglican Infant School, Dennery Infant School and the Lions Pre-school in Vieux Fort. Through inter-active sessions, the reading teams created a memorable encounter for the children and their teachers alike, while driving home the connection between diet and the prevention of non-communicable diseases like diabetes, cancer, obesity and hypertension – which are all prevalent in Saint Lucia.
The Chief Tree initiative came in for very high praise from CIBC FirstCaribbean’s Country Manager Ladesa Williams who noted that the learning tool provides parents and teachers with a “solid start”, which, if backed with reinforcing behaviours and good example, Chief Tree’s message can, serve children for the rest of their lives.
“Seeing the positive impact Chief Tree had on my son and our family I am certain the lessons and behaviours learnt can be repeated in every home in Saint Lucia. We enjoyed colouring together then going to the market to select fruits and vegetables he saw in the book,” Mrs Williams said. She further explained, “At CIBC FirstCaribbean we will continue to advocate for healthy lifestyles as part of our cancer awareness initiatives and we are especially pleased to merge reading month and a push for healthy eating this year”.
Through its annual Walk For The Cure, CIBC FirstCaribbean has, for the past seven years, been a prominent champion for healthy lifestyles leading towards cancer prevention. To date the bank has raised over USD $2.2 million across the region which is channelled to help cancer patients through various cancer support organisations.