We are the first and only corporate Foundation in Jamaica to focus on Special Needs. As there continue to be challenges caused by the lack of funding and awareness, we’re helping to create a world where no one gets left behind by shining a spotlight on those with physical, intellectual and other developmental disabilities.
Since inception, we’ve worked closely with Special Needs organisations, the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information and the Ministry of Labour and Social Security to offer assistance. This includes partnering with UNICEF in 2018 to get 3,633 persons (including 847 students) registered with the Jamaica Council for Persons with Disabilities, which allows them to receive government benefits and services.
One of our major fundraising and awareness initiatives is the Digicel 5K Run/Walk/Wheel for Special Needs, which is now in its ninth year. Over the years, this event has raised US$457K for numerous Special Needs organisations.
We have invested in Special Needs education to increase access for students at all levels. Since 2005, we’ve partnered with the Special Education Unit of the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information to renovate seven special education schools. We also constructed 10 Special Needs Centres which are run independent of the Special Needs Units – all still in operation today.
In 2020-2021, we’ve invested in vocational training for Special Needs students at the secondary level through the renovation of the Pear Tree River campus of the Lyssons School for Special Education. This is an important focus area as we seek to equip students with the skills needed to enter the work force. Additionally, we’ve continued to support our 10 Special Needs Centres and raise funds for other groups through the Digicel 5K.