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Jan 17, 2023

Reading Room Belize Officially Opened at Wesley Upper School  

Today, Reading Room Belize was officially opened at the Upper Division of Wesley Primary School in Belize City. It’s the brainchild of the International Black Women’s Public Policy Institute and the Dorothy I Height Global Leadership Academy, of which Opal Enriquez is a graduate and member. Several of the graduates of the academy are in Belize for the opening of this reading room initiative that was established with the purpose of creating a literacy environment for young people of all ages. It is a welcomed investment for the school, as there are some students who need to improve their literacy and reading skills.  News Five’s Duane Moody reports.

Duane Moody, Reporting

Literacy is an issue that requires a multifaceted approach and today, a group of women from an international organization officially opened Reading Room Belize. The International Black Women’s Public Policy Institute and the Dorothy I Height Global Leadership Academy chose Wesley Upper Division in the Queen Square Division and ended up transforming a storage room into a safe space for children to learn how to read.


Opal Enriquez

Opal Enriquez, Project Manager, Reading Room Belize

“Literacy is everything. Literacy is community; it is finding your voice and making it heard. It is reading, it’s academics, it is everything that we need in order to navigate life, so as a part of our platform for the International Black Women’s Public Policy Institute and the Dorothy I Height Global Leadership Academy, it is very important for us to share literacy improvement with the rest of the world. We currently have reading rooms in Ghana and the Bahamas and as the first graduate from Belize of the academy, you know I am proud Belizean, so I am like we have to do this in my country because we understand the needs and we want to make as many resources available to our people as possible. We wanted to create a safe environment, we wanted to create a cool environment – we added air-conditioning – you know a place where they can feel secure in reading. We wanted to make sure the roof was intact because everything inside the room starts with the rain coming in and we wanted to keep it safe. And we added the computer and of course, we wanted to give them new books because the platform is reading.”


It is an initiative that the leadership of Wesley Upper School welcomed wholeheartedly. Principal Nicole Welch-Middleton says that a number of students at the upper level have difficulty reading and this will help to provide that additional support.


Nicole Welch-Middleton

Nicole Welch-Middleton, Principal, Wesley Upper School

“We have students who come to us at nine or older and they don’t know how to read. So it becomes a task for us to find time within our regular day to teach them how to read if we want learning to take place. Our curriculum does dictate that we teach reading, phonics, blending letter sounds and things like that because we are the upper division, but it became absolutely necessary that we did those things to enable our students to function at even the basic academic level. So when Opal and her team came to us and presented that they wanted an enhancement area, we sat down and I said this is a dream intertwined. So yes, we welcome the books, the computers and everything, but we also ask them to please support us with materials to teach reading.”


Among the speakers at today’s event was Leader of the Opposition Shyne Barrow who touched on the importance of the quote that the “readers of today are leaders of tomorrow.”


Shyne Barrow

Shyne Barrow, Leader of the Opposition

“Reading is so crucial to excelling in life, to having any type of progress. Certainly for me, reading was a centrepiece and continues to be a centrepiece of my life. I always get so excited when Godfrey Smith or Lawrence Vernon releases a new book. They write mostly about politics and for me, in my dream to one day become prime minister of Belize and thereby transform Belize to a utopia that could only be imagined, the journey continues and getting all the information, learning about the former prime ministers, learning about prime ministers throughout the region, the Commonwealth, it all helps me in creating the reality that I want – not just for myself, but Belize. So at my level, reading is so very important. Carry them through on all levels. But certainly as their foundation, the more information that they are able to download and process, the better off they will be.”


The value of the initiative is ten thousand U.S. dollars. Duane Moody for News Five.

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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