Online voting begins this Friday – Seventeen local projects vie for Kroonappels prize

POSTED: 03/12/13 11:02 AM
Image with the presentation of the No Kidding with Our Kids Foundation

Image with the presentation of the No Kidding with Our Kids Foundation

St. Maarten – Hundreds of social initiatives from all over the Kingdom are in the mix for the Kroonappels competition of the Oranje Fonds. Ten initiatives that focus on our youth from St. Maarten vie for the mother of all prizes: a check of € 50,000 ($65,000). Online voting on the initiatives is open during three days, from this upcoming Friday until Sunday.

There are also two neighborhood projects taking part (Oualichi women’s soccer team and HIV testing days) as well as three from the Helping Hands Foundation (an expo, a wheelchair bus for handicapped citizens and an alarm system for vulnerable citizens), a social project for senior citizens and the St. Maarten Sea Rescue Foundation that bring the total number of initiatives to seventeen.

The Oranje Fonds organizes the Kroonappels competition on the occasion of the inauguration of King Willem-Alexander on April 30. When the fund sent out a press release noting that St. Maarten was lagging, because up to that moment just one initiative had registered, quite some organizations woke up. When the registration closed just before the weekend, ten initiatives had joined the hunt for the main prize. These organizations and or their initiatives are: Kids at Sea Foundation, Girl Power (St. Maarten Aids Foundation), Generation New Status Drum Band / COCAAE Foundation, Heroes Journey from Powerful You SXM, Nour O Foundation, Be Your Own Boss (Small Business Development Foundation), Ni Kidding with Our Kids Foundation (after-school care program). Interscholastic soccer tournament (St. Maarten Soccer Educational Foundation) and the Chuchubi Foundation (The children are our future).

The oldest and therefore longest running initiative is the Interscholastic Soccer Tournament that started twenty years ago in 1993. With just 9 volunteers this initiative has reached out to 1,500 children. The newest kid on the block is Heroes Journey: a program for emotional coaching from Powerful You SXM that reaches out to young children and adolescents in schools. Started on January 1 of this year the two volunteers working the program have already reached 50 children. The initiative that claims to have reached the most people – not necessarily children – is the Generation New Status Drum Band. Started on September 1, 2008, the twelve volunteers that support the program say on their registration that they have reached an astonishing 50,000 people.

The organizations that entered the competition had to describe the purpose and the significance of their initiative and describe briefly why they think their initiative ought to win.

The Kids at Sea Foundation works with local schools and youth organizations to provide children with experiences on the water – from sailing and scuba diving to powerboat trips, sailing lessons and certification training. The foundation trained students of Milton Peters College who then took part in the Heineken Regatta. “Our programs are structured, educational, inter-scholastic and geared to future development of the participants into potential careers that are available to them on the island,” the foundation says.

Girl Power from the Aids Foundation provides teenage girls of secondary schools with knowledge and tools to help them become empowered women. It started in September 2006. With 30 volunteers the program has reached 2,000 girls so far. “Prior to Girl Power correct information on sexual health, sexually transmitted infections and communication and negotiation skills were not taught in schools. It is not common to talk about sex at homer, although sexual activity debuts quite young and we have the highest rate of teen pregnancy in the Dutch Antilles,” the registration form states.

Why this initiative should win? “Girl Power brings a realistic view and unabashedly shows potential negative consequences of their actions and can steer girls to stay on course to become dynamic, empowered and confident women.”

The cultural and Artistic expression (Drum Band) of generation new status STM Drum Band (COCAAE Foundation) started to teach drumming to children aged between 5 and 16. The objective is to establish other groups of cultural and artistic expression in the various districts. The drum classes are a means to keep local youngsters off the streets.

Why win? “Winning the awarded amount of money will enable us to get our own club house, where we will be able to store our musical instruments and costumes,” the foundation stated.

Heroes Journey by Powerful You SXM is the newest social initiative on the island. The program provides emotional coaching focused on bullying prevention. The program empowers vulnerable young children and adolescents to express their feelings by associating with their chosen heroes. It explores values like love, honesty, trust and more through play-acting based on incidents in their lives.

About the program’s significance, Powerful You states: “Expressing their feelings in a non-violent or non-abusive manner would have a major impact on juvenile delinquency and youth criminality. It would cut down substance abuse, break the cycle of abuse and offer the children brighter perspectives in life. They will become tomorrow’s stewards, co-creating safer neighborhoods, being of service to others, taking greater responsibility toward their community, leading their own children to higher awareness in a loving manner, and living by example.”

Why win? “The educational system offers very little opportunity for the emotional development of a child, yet it is vital for their wellbeing. We would like to introduce our coaching program to all schools as part of their curriculum. We need to coach teachers, organize workshops, involve the parents, produce our program online or in book format, prepare some of the children for stewardship in coaching others at their schools in a few months, and organize program activities, diplomas and celebrations.”

Nour O assistance of the Nour O Foundation focuses on helping youth with writing and singing skills. It also provides free of charge tools for studio recording and music production. The foundation was established in September of last year by the parents of Nour Ouenniche.  With 20 volunteers the foundation has so far reached 100 children.

Why win?  “Music and entertainment is one of the best choices of young people to stay out of trouble. Unfortunately the scarcity of the facilities on the island and the exorbitant cost of the few existing ones make it difficult for most young people to use this avenue.”  The talent show Sint Maarten idol is part of the foundation’s program.

Be Your Own Boss is an initiative of the Small Business Development Foundation. It started in July 2007 and so far has reached with 10 volunteers 24 young entrepreneurs. The Youth entrepreneurship program covers the condominium and the marine sector. The program is designed to tackle youth unemployment.

Why win? “Youth unemployment has reached 30% most of them are young people who do not have the financial support to further their studies and do not qualify, for whatever reasons, to obtain government support.”

The No Kidding with Our Kids Foundation is one of the older social initiatives on the island. Started in February 1996, shortly after the island was devastated by Hurricane Luis in 1995, the 15 volunteers associated with the foundation have reached out to 165 children in their after school care programs. This includes homework assistance, but also creative and social-educational activities.

“The program we offer leads to new discoveries, interests and challenges that contribute significantly to the further development of children,” the foundation stated.

Why win? “This ingeniously composed program meets the growing needs of parents for this kind of care in the afternoon and it is being executed by a dedicated staff. It is impossible to imagine the community without this Home Away from Home. Winning would be the cherry on the cake after all those years.”

The St. Maarten Soccer Educational Foundation launched its interscholastic soccer tournament in 1993. With 9 volunteers it has reached 1,500 kids over the years. The tournament promotes the sports, but it also encourages kids to be active and to participate in a team sport. There are no fees involved, so all kids are able to participate. “This is a motivational tool to perform and behave well in school in order to be allowed to represent the school on the soccer field,” the foundation stated. “Furthermore, it gives the kids an opportunity to shine.”

Why win? “This year is a special year for us; we are celebrating our twentieth anniversary. The volunteers who make this event possible work hard. We believe this activity has a positive impact on children’s lives. We would like to provide for the first time monetary prizes to assist the schools with their soccer training programs.”

The Chuchubi Foundation joined the Kroonappels competition with its The Children are Our Future program. Every year the foundation distributes Christmas presents to children that are less well off in primary schools and financial support to others in secondary schools. The foundation wants to expand its initiative by proving meals at the schools. Kids will be better able to learn, the foundation says. Why win? “This project does not only benefit the children but the whole society. Less youth criminality and lower social costs for the government.”

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