Photo Caption: Minister of Health Dr. Christopher Tufton looks on at the winners of the I-PLEDGE Essay writing competition who are from left, Shanique Wilson of Denham Town Primary, Kadie Jackson of Elletson Primary and Shavonese Barclay of Seaview Gardens Primary.

Kingston, Jamaica - May 30, 2016: Approximately 50 Grade Five students from selected schools within the Corporate Area participated in Western Union's I-PLEDGE (I Promise to Lend Encouragement to Develop Growth in Education) event at the Hope Zoo last Friday, May 27, 2016.

Staged under the theme "Open a Book ... Open your Mind" students from Elletson Primary, Denham Town Primary, Cockburn Gardens and Seaview Gardens Primary participated in reading activities with Oral Tracey of TVJ's Sports Commentary and Brittany Singh, advisor to the Junior Minister in the Ministry of Education and Youth, along with GraceKennedy Money Services (GKMS) staff. They were also treated to a tour of the zoo and other interactive activities including face painting.

The event also served as a prize giving ceremony for the winners of the recently staged Zika Virus essay competition. The children were invited to submit essays on how to keep their environment Zik-V Free. First place went to Elletson Primary's Kadie Jackson; Shanique Wilson of Denham Town Primary placed second while third place was awarded to Seaview Gardens' Shavonese Barclay.

The prizes of trophies, Kingston Bookshop vouchers and Western Union backpacks were handed out by Minister of Health, Dr. Christopher Tufton.

Western Union Marketing Manager, Vinette Rowe said that, "the IPLEDGE Reading Day is aimed at encouraging our children to cultivate a passion for reading and learning at an early age. Reading is a primary skill that is needed to improve our understanding and comprehension and by taking the time to read with our children, we are indeed helping them to grow, develop self confidence and ultimately make better decisions."

This was the second year of this format of the I-PLEDGE where students from select schools are invited to participate in an essay writing competition and a reading day at the Hope Zoo.

GraceKennedy Money Services (GKMS) has invested heavily in the I-PLEDGE programme and has demonstrated a vested interest in the development of the nation and its people. The company continues to support the Ministry of Education's national agenda of achieving 85% mastery in literacy among Grade Four students.