Non-Profit Profile: The TrenchTown Reading Centre

The TrenchTown Reading Centre Mission and History

The TrenchTown Reading Centre is unique -a first of its kind in an area polarized by persistent poverty and local tribal politics. The Centre opened in December 1993 – a non-profit and secular, community initiative. Focused on Knowledge is Power – literacy, education, culture, life skill, access to information and the exchange of ideas.

The Centre has been an inspiration working to decrease the high illiteracy rates ~ fostering development and engaging impressionable minds of all ages – to create a foundation for personal, familial and community well-being, promoting positive growth and possibility.

The TrenchTown Reading Centre is dedicated to promote positive growth and possibility, in a welcoming, client centered and inclusive environment.

Our programs focus on literacy and learning with understanding, positive learning experiences. Utilizes the library’s extensive materials with our focused curriculum we are able to provide a comprehensive range of activities, addressing the diversity of needs, abilities and interests … from the gifted to the challenged at all levels.

Early Intervention: Our Youth are full of energy, talent, potential and possibility. All children start out wanting to learn and succeed. We need to nurture their brightness and give them the tools and the confidence to make and achieve positive life choices. Core challenges facing individuals, families & communities, struggling with the basics of life, illiteracy and marginalization create a susceptible population.

The Centre plays an important role in helping break the negative cycle of illiteracy and marginalization by providing relevant, accessible resources and programming.

* Literacy, Integration, Experience and Inclusion– the antidote to Marginalization, illiteracy and lack of opportunity. Armed with the skills, confidence and positive experiences in varied aspects of life and exposure to the world outside of West Kingston  ~ able to envision and realize positive life choices.

We promote original thought, creativity, self-expression, critical and expanded thinking- building confidence in ideas and stimulating the creative process while building skills. We employ hands-on, learning by doing, with individual and shared activities and projects.

TrenchTown Reading Centre Programs   – no fees for any program or services

We invite and encourage visitors to come share their talents and interests. Youths do the same, sharing their favourite books and showcasing poetry, drama and art abilities. Providing interaction opportunities for children and visitors alike

> Literacy, Language Arts; wide variety of language art activities coupled with creative arts, (Shared Books) extended activities- written and oral. Child-centred, creative learning.

  • Guided Reading: dedicated section of leveled fiction & non-fiction titles
  • Reading time- solo, pairs, groups, read aloud
  • Study Support / Homework
  • Curriculum: Geography, Nature, Culture, History, Maths (differ each mn)
  • Research Skills competed work is laminated & added to Library collection
  • Mailbox program with El Centro school in New Kingston. May 2011
  • Adult Literacy program. restarted 2011 ( Volunteer)
  • Special- Shared Books (Read Aloud) l Sat 11-12:30 vol’s/ guest authors
  • ART PROGRAM ( Sat afternoons. Guest Artist)
  • CULTURAL PROGRAM: Spoken Word/Drama “Trenchtown Knowledge Squad” TTKS
  • Black History Month February Special events. Visiting participants
  • Summer School: comprehensive curriculum (see attachment)
  • Community Spelling Bee (81 spellers 2012) open to all 5-15 yrs
  • Readings, Performances & Workshops by guest authors & artists.
  • Inside Out  (TED): Global Photo Art Project: to be completed Feb 2012
  • Lending Library.. wide range of titles for all ages
  • Community Classroom: Multi-functional space for classes, performances, events, community activities & meetings.

1. Engage the minds of our youth in creative means of expression, while at the same time learning useful skills. Providing those who struggle with literacy a successful learning experiences.

2. Help youth on a psychological level by giving them the opportunity to express themselves and communicate how they are impacted by their surroundings and express their hopes and dreams for the future.

3. Provide a healthy and positive activity in a safe environment.
Cultural: Spoken Word/Drama ~ ‘Trench Town Knowledge Squad’ (TTKS ): A coach guides the children in composing and performing their own works and interpreting those of Jamaican poets and authors. Performing inside & outside the community

ART ~ ‘Art Experience’ Saturday afternoons. Guest artist comes every Saturday afternoon: Varied activities tailored to fit ability levels


Emma Lewis: US Embassy Office of PR. Personal comment;
Trench Town Forever! Just a stone’s throw away from the Government Yard where Bob Marley grew up, in a sadly impoverished area, the Trench Town Reading Centre is a little beacon of love, light and hope. More power to you and your wonderful kids and the grown ups too!

Dr. Rebecca Tortello: Educational Professional, Author, Seniour Advisor to the Honorable Ministry of Education
The TrenchTown Reading Centre is a marvel not only because it has a wide-ranging and well maintained collection of books lovingly laid out in calm, relaxing setting. It is a marvel because it continues to survive year after year despite significant funding challenges, remaining a welcoming and aesthetically pleasing space that produces quality programming for children of all ages. The Centre’s programmes are carefully designed to facilitate the development of self-esteem, creative and critical thinking skills as well as a lifelong love of reading.

Those who conceptualized and run the Centre deserve commendation for their hard work and dedication, and for their thoughtful vision. I would encourage all those who wish to promote the importance of literacy in Jamaica to visit and lend their support.

Dr. Henley Morgan: Chairman; Agency for Innercity Renewal
Agency for Innercity Renewal is part of the Trench Town community. Roslyn Ellison is the founder, benefactor and Director of the Trench Town Reading Centre. This one-of-a-kind facility is like a beacon in Trench Town with its light reaching out to surrounding communities. The Agency for Inner-City Renewal is proud to have TrenchTown Reading Centre, an important educational resource, as our partners and beneficiaries. The work of Roslyn Ellison is critical in this regard. Based on census figures, Trench Town Reading Centre has a potential reach of 8,830 children in a populace numbering 26,500 persons

Allison Hickling: Rotary Club Trafalgar, New Heights. Communication Specialist UNICEF Jamaica
I speak on behalf of the Club and all our special guest readers when I say that we had the most wonderful time on Saturday. It was a blessing and an honour……

To our great delight, a few of the kids showed off their drama skills in performances done true Jamaican style. The event was topped off by individual reading sessions with club members, for which the kids enthusiastically rushed to pick out their books and readers. Personally, this was the best part of the event for me — for both the warm interaction and the absolute eagerness on the part of the kids to devour the books. You are doing this community such an amazing service, by helping to encourage avid readers for life!

Ms. Robin Neustaeter:  Faculty of Education: International Project Manager/ Graduate Studies Mount Saint Vincent University Halifax Canada
….  “For many of the visitors it was their first time to Trench Town and all were so pleased, surprised and inspired to find a community resource like the Reading Centre in Trench Town, something they never expected to find there – considering the image and stigma of Trench Town. Immediately they felt that it was a positive place.

One student who is an art professor at Mico College told me that he found books at the centre that he had been looking for and had never been able to find them before. They commented that no other library in Jamaica would have such a considered collection, particularly with the Afro-Centric and Jamaican focus …

How To Contact And Help
History & Rationale of how Centre came to be. Photos & Progress to 2009.. updates pg, wish list, photo gallery. Link to the OFFICIAL Facebook Group

Current Events .. Global Feedback… Photos 2010…

They give a good feel for the Centre. ‘ Almost like being there ‘  Enjoy

CONTACT: Co-Founder/ Managing Director: Roslyn Ellison
[email protected]

* No fees charged for any program or use of the Centre
* No funds go towards management (volunteered by Friends of the TrenchTown Reading Centre, TrenchTown Reading Centre Ltd and Agency for Inner City Renewal).  All funds go towards maintenance, development and support of programs and the Centre

DONATIONS: The Centre has come a long way since our beginning in 1993 and there is much further to go. We need help to keep & grow the potential of the hearts & minds of our youth. One by One, Group by Group we can keep our deserving bright young sparks nurtured & learning.
‘One One Coco Full Basket’  [a little at a time/every bit counts]

> Paypal on our website:
> For direct deposit or cheque: please contact Roslyn Ellison
[email protected]

Registered Non-profit Canada (since 1996-)
> maintain & develop programs, training, promotion, development, support and maintenance of all aspects of the Centre.

Board: Roslyn Ellison, April Agate, Michael Linke, Neville Francis

Jamaica (2011)
> works in conjunction with FTRC on management aspects of the Centre
Board:  Roslyn Ellison, Dr. Henley Morgan, Owen Ellis, Carl Brown, Christopher Whyms-Stone, Colin Smikle, Otiis Whyte



SUMMER 2012: TRENCHTOWN READING CENTRE – A free literacy, educational and cultural enrichment program ~ providing child-centred, creative learning in a welcoming, safe environment. It’s important to continue the learning process in the summer outside of the pressure of the school year. Programs build knowledge, skills, creativity and self- esteem and confidence. Using the library’s extensive multicultural materials we are able to provide a comprehensive range of activities. through success based, Providing learning success with positive, fun learning experiences.

ACROSS the MILES…focusing on the Centre’s global presence was a major theme this Summer. The children saw how they & the Centre were presented to the world. In Jamaica being from Trench Town often gets a negative reaction. They were amazed how Trench Town was known all over the world. And were fascinated learning the commitment of people so far away; having parties, concerts, gathering books & art supplies and making donations. They were surprised at their global reach; the posters, their images and events seen in so many places. Incredulous to see people wearing our T-shirts from Spain to Bulgaria to Australia to England… they were thrilled and lit up. They are somebodies!!!!

The children were very moved to know that so many warm hearts and helping hands reach out to keep them growing, nurtured and learning.


SUMMER SCHOOL: 3 classes. Themed curriculum guided by lesson plans. Emphasis on Jamaica; proverbs, natural life, people, history. Plus nutrition, journal writing, graphing, compound words, and follow up of review of Reduce Reuse Recycle from 2011 and more. Subjects are coupled with creative arts and hands-on lessons; reinforcing and demonstrating learning with individual and shared projects.

SUMMER PR0GRAM: Follows our rigorous three week Summer School. The focus is on interactive education and hands on creative & performing arts, in a less structured and more experiential format

Interactive Events Summer 2012:

Puppets for Peace / Kingston Drummers / Farm Visit / Special Art Day

Planting Day / Storytellers

The main themes of Summer School are extended and new ones added. Focusing on and encouraging creativity and self-expression – ensuring those who struggle with literacy have successful learning experiences.

1. Engage the minds of our youth in creative means of expression, while at the same time learning useful skills. Providing those who struggle with literacy a successful learning experiences.

2. Help youth on a psychological level by giving them the opportunity to express themselves and communicate how they are impacted by their surroundings and express their hopes and dreams for the future.

3. Provide a healthy and positive activity in a safe environment.

This year we were at overcapacity with children from Tivioli Gardens, Downtown Arnette Gardens and Rose Town joining in…it was a very bustling. happy Summer!