Every quarter, ACE staff plans a birthday celebration for your sponsored children. Like most birthday parties in the States, they are full of fun and games, and we make sure that each child gets a small gift. We are finding challenges accommodating the varying ages of the children. You can imagine what happens combining age groups at a party, like a six-year-old and a 13-year-old celebrating together. If they each get a bottle of bubbles as a gift, the six-year-old loves it while the 13-year-old may yawn and decide to start blowing bubbles in the six-year-old’s hair. Ah, fun times!

Because of this and the fact that we have a lot more teenagers in the program than we’ve ever had, we thought that instead of a trinket gift for this age group, we do something different going forward. Many of these young adults have never had experiences outside their area, so perhaps a field trip to the caves or an airport or a place like pantomime in Kingston, a unique theatre experience with a rich history, would be good. (Fun fact: one of the most famous Jamaican pantomime storytellers was Louise Bennett, who is affectionately honored at our own Galina Breeze Hotel with a conference room named after her – now you know!) The experiences, conversations, and time invested we think will be far more impactful now that these little ones are big teenagers.

We would love your thoughts on this topic. What do you do for your teenagers for their birthdays and how do you think that would translate to our students who have never left Jamaica or, for some, even the Parish of St. Mary?

As we look for ways to improve our sponsored children’s experiences, we still think our birthday celebrations went very well, thanks to our ACE staff mixing it up and using different music and activities. All ages were happy and grateful, including Ms. Foster who we think turned 14-years-old as well.