Scores of persons gathered in Rose Hall, Montego Bay on Saturday, June 28, 2014 for the ceremonial opening of the new state-of-the-art building for the NAZ Children’s Centre.
The new facility was constructed with a $36.7 million grant from the Digicel Foundation, one of Jamaica’s leading supporters of the Special Needs Sector. Additional cash and in-kind contributions from Rosehall Developments, Master Spas, Cascade Group, Spanish-Jamaica Foundation, Coldmax Mart Ltd. and Maffessanti Architecture and Urban Design for the project.
The NAZ Children’s Centre is a multi-faceted educational institution for average and above average learners and children with special needs—each of whom gets specialised attention. They provide quality education for students with learning and other challenges such Down Syndrome, Autism, Learning Delays and Cerebral Palsy that constitute about half the student cohort. The new facility will not only allow NAZ to double its Special Needs cohort to one hundred but also offer a Leadership Education and Achievement Programme (LEAP) for special needs children over 13 years to learn a skill in craftwork, landscaping and cosmetology.
It offers more space and allows teachers additional room to be more creative. The new school boasts a multifunctional library and computer room, five classrooms—four of which are used for inclusive learning and one for customised instruction for children with severe mental or physical impairment. The environmentally friendly new school building was designed to allow for maximum air flow throughout classrooms, eliminating the need for air conditioning units, thereby reducing energy and operational costs.
The Digicel Foundation’s partnership with NAZ forms a part of its pledge to place the needs of persons with special needs at the forefront of national development. Over the last three years, The Foundation has invested over $350 million to increase the quality of care being provided and the quantity of facilities for Special Needs communities.
Samantha Chantrelle, Chief Executive Officer at The Foundation told the gathering that The Foundation is committed to improving the lives of persons with special needs and intends to create ten Centres of Excellence across the island by 2016.
“We have seen lots of improvements in recent times but there is still an urgent need to do more to empower children with Special Needs so that they can reach their full potential as a part of Vision 2030 Sector Plan for Persons with Disability,” Chantrelle said.
According to the Founder and Principal of NAZ, Alixann Narcisse-Campbell “The students and staff are very excited and happy for this new building; we can now reach many more children who desperately need this kind of specialised support. We have wanted a space that is more suited to our students with Special Needs for a very long time and to cater to more students as well as be more creative with their learning environment. We are now better equipped to help each child reach his or her full potential.”
Chantrelle added that “We need to ensure every parish has at least one school to cater to the educational needs of children with Special Needs. Every Jamaican, every business and parliamentarian has an important role to play to facilitate the learning needs of children with Special Needs. We are extremely delighted to be a part of the NAZ family and remain committed to the supporting of this institution.”
See photos from the event here: http://goo.gl/b6GLaz