She is a special needs teacher in the United States, but over the past week her attention has been focused on underprivileged children in Nelson Street, The City.
With the assistance of members of her family, New York-based Christina Dunner has been able to put on a free summer camp for 50 Barbadian students, in the hope of making a difference in their lives.
“I particularly chose this area because I feel like these are the forgotten kids, and I don’t want them to feel like their surroundings will dictate the rest of their life,” she told a team from Barbados TODAY who visited the camp this evening in time to see campers, who had perfect attendance collecting their gifts.
“I don’t believe in bad kids, they are just children who are misguided,” said the 28-years-old teacher, who considers herself “an honorary Bajan”.
She credited her mother Joan Turner, her cousin Nyjah Connell, who is a youth counsellor in New York and Barbadian teacher Andrea Phillips for helping with the initiative, while saying she thought it necessary to use her skills as a teacher to help underprivileged children.
“This was us giving back to Barbados,” added Turner, who assisted Dunner in packing the barrel with camp supplies and shipping it from New York.
“We provided both lunch and snacks on a daily basis,” Turner added.
The Enrich Barbados Summer Camp was focused mainly on education and focused on subject areas such as Mathematics, reading and writing, dance, photography and music.
Campers, who visited the neighbouring community park, were also engaged in several recreational activities, such as basketball, cricket, American football and baseball, even though Dunner laughingly recalled that when she tried to teach the children how to play baseball “they always ended up playing cricket”.
Another challenge was in getting participants to “self-regulate their feelings, so that when they get angry they don’t have to hit someone.
“This is the first year but it will be ongoing,” said Dunner, who is already planning for next year when she wants to expand the camp to two weeks and make it a “cultural exchange” in which she plans to invite more New York teachers to get involved.
Dunner, who gave up a portion of her vacation to put on the camp, is also hoping to double the number of participants to 100 children next year.
However, this will call for a bigger location, so “if there is anybody willing to allow us to use a community centre or a school we would be so grateful.”
Dunner is asking that anyone who is interested in assisting with the camp to contact her at