Disney Cruise brings the joy of storytelling to Albury Sayle
Christmas came early for children of Albury Sayle Primary School, as volunteers and Disney characters visited the school recently for its annual Reading Together program.
Launched 14 years ago, Reading Together takes Disney VoluntEARS, who are crewmembers, into schools throughout the Caribbean and The Bahamas for a fun time of storytelling. Disney Cruise Line distributes hundreds of books each year and encourages its crew to participate in this initiative.
Ministry of Tourism Senior Director of Cruise and Maritime Development Carla Stuart said the ministry always supports and seeks to ensure that its partnerships have social components that benefit the Bahamian community.
“Cruise represents just under 80 percent of the tourism visits to The Bahamas. We see the cruise lines as partners with us in the tourism industry. It is important, given the business derived from our destination, that the cruise lines are also proactive in giving back to the community. The reading partnership with Albury Sayle, the Christmas gift giving and assistance after natural disasters are just small ways that the lines give back to the country,” she said.
For the past four years, the Disney VoluntEARS have been visiting Albury Sayle to share the world-renowned Disney magic, and according to Lorraine Patrick, the school’s literacy coordinator, the students look forward to the visit every year.
“Kids actually love this, and they look forward to this visit every year. They are not aware of who the characters are that are coming most of the time, Patrick said. Last year, we had Paradise Disney, and they dressed in their paradise island clothes, but this year the volunteers are in Captain Mickey and Sailor Minnie costumes”.
Patrick said Disney’s Reading Together project is a great complement to the school’s literacy program, which focuses on combatting the high level of literacy issues in the country.
“Children will pick up the iPads and other devices and they will play games, but not educational programs, so we’re trying to change that,” the long-time educator said.