Five special needs organisations will be putting plans in place to better serve their communities, having benefited from J$5 million worth of proceeds from the staging of the 2017 Digicel 5K Run/Walk for Special Needs.
The five organisations receiving J$1million each are: the Jamaica Autism Support Association, Jamaica Down Syndrome Foundation, Early Stimulation Plus, Jamaican Association on Intellectual Disabilities and Mustard Seed Communities.
“The Digicel Foundation’s fundraiser has provided us with a huge boost to our capabilities in raising awareness of intellectual disabilities. We are now also able to provide additional programmes that will help people with intellectual challenges play a more meaningful role in society,” commented Christine Rodriguez, Executive Director of the Jamaica Association on Intellectual Disabilities (JAID).
The funds will go towards JAID’s Adult Continuing Educational Programme, Social and Recreational Programme and CHUPSE - an income-generating enterprise lead by persons with autism and Down Syndrome who make and sell handcrafted jewellery.
In welcoming the donation to the Jamaica Down Syndrome Foundation (JDSF), Founder and Director, Dr Charmaine Scott, said, “Without this funding we would not be able to carry out administrative support, parent group meetings and the facilitation of early intervention for our children.”
In his acknowledgement on behalf of beneficiaries at a recent handing over ceremony, JDSF Director, Christopher Lai, added, “Digicel Foundation has been like a big brother or sister to us and we really want to thank you for that, you give us a sense of warmth that drives us, and we are indeed indebted to your kindness.”
The annual Digicel 5K Run/Walk which first began in 2012, highlights the Digicel Foundation’s continued support for the inclusion and acceptance of members of the special needs community.
Chairman of Digicel Foundation, Jean Lowrie-Chin, responded, “We at the Digicel Foundation are inspired by you: the founders, the leaders, the parents and your own special needs community.” She continued, “We see the efforts being made to make your members feel loved and included. That drive and acceptance for the differently abled is so important for our nation.”
The 2017 Digicel 5K Run/Walk for Special Needs attracted an enthusiastic crowd of over 10,000 participants who are part of a growing number of persons showing strong support for the cause.
Since its inception in 2012, the 5K run has raised over J$41 million. These funds have been used by special needs institutions to make necessary infrastructural and developmental upgrades, provide scholarships for special needs students, procure the necessary specialised training for teachers and caregivers and address other needs specific to each organisation.