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US-based runners donate to schools in Negril

When the 433 runners and 100 cheerleaders of the US-based Reggae Runnerz group arrive in Jamaica for the Reggae Marathon, Half Marathon and 10K, they will be bringing shoes for the football team and gears for the netball team at the Negril All-Age School. They will also be conducting development seminars for students at the Hanover Educational Institute, as well as donating funds to the Green Island High School.

Reggae Runnerz have launched a members-only crowd-funding initiative to raise funds for the Green Island High School in order to assist student achievement through the use of improved technology. The initiative closes on Friday, December 3, at which time a cheque will be presented to the school's representative for the amount collected. In recent years, Reggae Runnerz has presented school supplies and sneakers to students at the institution during the Reggae Marathon Pasta Party in Negril.

"We have been making donations to schools in Negril and have volunteered our time in the community," said Lisa Laws, founder of Reggae Runnerz, a group of runners from various clubs across the US who have come together to "run where the sun meets the sea".

Lisa noted that Black Girls Run 'n Reggae Running Group out of Northern California joined Reggae Runnerz this year to participate in the Reggae Marathon races after meeting at last year's Reggae Marathon. Prior to their visit to Negril in 2014, the group learned of the need for running shoes for students at Negril All-Age School and decide to donate the items. And while visiting the school, members pledged to bring football boots and netball gears on their return for the 2015 Reggae Marathon, Half Marathon and 10K.

The Reggae Runnerz founder noted that there were individuals within the group who also planned to assist various communities during their time in Negril. Among them is Akilah Thompson, founder of I Am Beauty Inc, a New York-based socially conscious organisation with focus on the development of girls and women to build confidence, exceptional character and leadership skills. Akilah will be the keynote speaker on Saturday, December 5 at 8 p.m. at the Hanover Educational Institute's Candlelight Dinner at Cousin's Cove. On Tuesday, December 8 she will also conduct an I Am Beauty workshop aimed at empowering at-risk girls and young women, also at the Hanover Educational Institute.

Technology session

Another Reggae Runnerz member, Shann Bernard, who is founder of Color Coded Academy and president of Generations Inspired Inc, will conduct an introductory session on technology and web development on December 8 also at the Hanover Educational Institute. Colour Coded Academy provides technology courses to underprivileged youth.

All participants will receive care packages, with health and beauty products, donated by I Am Beauty Inc and Generations Inspired Inc.

Over the years, Reggae Marathon, Half Marathon and 10K has conducted a shoe drive where gently used running shoes are collected at the annual event and distributed the following year to needy students and others participating in the Burger King Reggae Marathon Grand Prix series, leading up to the December event.

The Reggae Marathon, Half Marathon and 10K kicks off at 5 a.m. on Saturday, December 5 in Negril. However, registration and runner packet pick-up takes place at the Couples Swept Away Sports Complex from Thursday, December 3. 

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