In celebration of Disabilities Awareness Week, the Digicel Foundation partnered with the Ministry of Education (MOE) in support of their Special Needs poster competition and participated in UNICEF’s 2013 launch of The State of The World’s Children report. Disabilities Awareness week has been observed in Jamaica since 1994. The Jamaica Council for Persons with Disabilities (JCPD) has been working towards full inclusion and equal opportunities for persons with disabilities since 1973. This goal is directly in line with the Foundation’s objective to heighten awareness around the specific challenges facing the Special Needs community while recognizing their invaluable contribution to society. Held under the theme ‘I Can Learn, Teach Me the Right Way,’ the poster competition, which was hosted at the Special Education Unit of the MOE on Arnold road in Kingston, was organized to create more awareness around children living with disabilities. Students from across the island with varying disabilities submitted entries in four categories: Early Childhood—ages 4-8 years; Primary—ages 8-12 years; High School—ages 13-18 years and Young Adult—ages 17-21 years. Before announcing the winners, Ann Newman, Education Officer at the Ministry of Education, noted, “The judges felt that the pieces appropriately fit this year’s theme—‘I Can Learn, Teach Me the Right Way’, by depicting a variety of learning styles. Some of us learn through our eyes, some through our ears and some through feeling. The pieces portrayed all of these learning strategies.” Students from Hazard Primary School in Clarendon copped first place in the Early Childhood and Primary Categories—Janise Kent and Tajay Pommells, respectively. Wesley Vernon, Fugeo Reid and Anthony Murray from Lucea Learning Centre collaboratively worked on their piece earning them first place in the High School category. Sandrine Lawrence of Lister Mair Gilby High school for the Deaf won first prize in the Young Adult Category. The Digicel Foundation presented 4G Wi-Fi and Pocket Modems with 1 month free internet service to the schools that placed first in each category. “The Digicel Foundation is happy to support the efforts of the Ministry of Education as they work towards creating more awareness around individuals living with Special Needs,” noted Judine Hunter, Programme Manager for Special Needs at the Digicel Foundation. “This is an area that our Foundation is truly passionate about. We continue to look for opportunities through which we can better assist the Special Needs community at large.” In addition to the poster competition, the Foundation participated in UNICEF’s 2013 launch of the State of the World’s Children report, held at Emancipation Park on December 4th. This year’s report focuses on children with disabilities. For the event, the Foundation teamed up with Early Stimulation Plus (ESP) to showcase student work and raise awareness of the school’s early intervention programme. ESP is a child development centre/basic school that caters to Special Needs students. “The event was a success as it was about inclusion and breaking down barriers,” noted Antonica Gunter Gayle, Director of Early Stimulation Plus. “Digicel Foundation has been catering to the Special Needs community and our school is one of the organisations which the Foundation is supporting. We were housed under their tent at the UNICEF launch, where we had various educational materials on how to cater to the developmental needs of children and persons who have disabilities. We also had charts and some of our student’s work on display.” Less than two months ago, the Digicel Foundation signed of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Ministry of Labour and Social Security that will increase the capacity of ESP through a contribution of J$25 million to the development of the government’s Early Stimulation Programme.