Following a J$31 million commitment to NAZ Children’s Centre for the construction of a new school, the Montego Bay-based special needs institution has now broken ground at its new location in Cinnamon Hill on Friday, November 16 th with the hope of completion by September 2013. NAZ Children’s Centre, the only mixed ability school in western Jamaica, uses a holistic approach in providing quality education. The school engages average and above average learners, international students who speak English as a second language and students with learning and other challenges. The latter includes Down syndrome, autism, learning delays and cerebral palsy. Students enjoy individualized attention from teachers and staff in small class settings. However, the Centre’s four existing classrooms cannot adequately accommodate its student body of over 40 students. Once the new building is complete, the school will have a total of eight classrooms to better house its grade levels—kindergarten through grade 6. NAZ Children’s Centre will then be able to double its student population, enrolling 86 – 100 students. “The Digicel Foundation embodies quality and by being associated with this Foundation people will view the school as one that offers quality education, a responsibility that we take very seriously,” comments NAZ Founder and Principal, Alixann Narcisse-Campbell. With the increased space, the school will be starting the Leadership Education and Achievement Programme (LEAP), which will enable special needs children over the age of 13 to learn a skill. Students will have the option of engaging in craftwork, landscaping and cosmetology. Additional areas in which special needs persons can be employed in the hospitality industry are also being explored. “We also want to have a programme where we can hire our former students in jobs on the school’s premises, this could help them to transition into the real working world,” added Narcisse-Campbell. In keeping with its on-going commitment to providing world class facilities for persons with special needs, the Digicel Foundation has committed to building three special needs schools by 2014. The STEP Centre (School for Therapy Education and Parenting of Children with multiple disabilities) was the first of these schools for which ground was broken, in March of this year. Since 2009, the Foundation has contributed over $93 million to the construction and maintenance of several other special needs schools including Genesis Academy and Randolph Lopez School of Hope. “Special needs education is something that is urgently needed across the country,” noted Samantha Chantrelle, Executive Director of the Digicel Foundation. “By investing in NAZ Children’s Centre, we are trying to develop the educational opportunities available in the Western section of the island in a way that will truly be impactful.” In addition to the Digicel Foundation, NAZ has received assistance from a host of other entities and persons including Rose Hall Developments, Master Spas, a hot tub company located in Indiana, USA and the Spanish-Jamaican Foundation.