Digicel Foundation shared in a special occasion with a long-standing partner and beneficiary, the Abilities Foundation on Tuesday, November 28. The Abilities Foundation launched a Beauty Services Unit at its Constant Spring Road office in Kingston. The Digicel Foundation also launched its 2017 Annual Report at the same event, and in recognition of Disabilities Week (November 26 to December 3).
The new Beauty Services Unit was built with J$1 million in funds from the 2016 Digicel 5K Run for Special Needs. Students will initially have the opportunity to learn nail care. In coming weeks, the Unit will expand to offer certified training in a range of beauty services, in partnership with the HEART Trust/National Training Agency and the Ministry of Labour and Social Security.
Digicel Foundation’s Chairman Jean Lowrie-Chin, CEO Dane Richardson and Board Members joined Senator Hon. Ruel Reid, Minister of Education, Youth and Information, Senator Dr. Floyd Morris, Dr. Iris Soutar, Chair and Susan Hamilton, Executive Director of the Abilities Foundation for the launch.
Senator Reid emphasised the fact that education is not only confined to classroom academics and made note of the need to, “teach young adults with disabilities good work ethics, and to facilitate their social and emotional re-adjustment to ensure effective integration into the wider society.” Reid also announced his ministry’s commitment to building ramps and lifts in all public schools over the next five years, in partnership with the Digicel Foundation, at a cost of $50 million.
Senator Morris was keen to acknowledge Jamaica’s disabled population and their importance, “There’s a shift in terms of our social and economic landscape in Jamaica. We can’t turn a blind eye to this significant portion of our population – persons living with disabilities.”
Chair of Digicel Foundation Jean Lowrie-Chin reaffirmed the Digicel Foundation’s commitment to special needs and its relationship with the Abilities Foundation: “Acquiring employable skills and solid qualifications is tremendously important for Jamaicans with disabilities, allowing them to become happy and productive citizens. We are delighted to support the Abilities Foundation and applaud their continuing efforts in offering educational and vocational training opportunities for these young people.”
Ms. Hamilton noted that the Beauty Services Unit will not only teach skills. “We are offering opportunities for additional training, by opening the door for entrepreneurial ventures,” she pointed out. “Students will learn business plan development, how to make a pitch and other aspects of entrepreneurship. The training will be provided by the HEART Trust, under the Workforce Inclusion Project, a partnership of the World Bank and the Government of Jamaica. We are very grateful to the Digicel Foundation for providing the funds for physical refurbishment and equipment, so that this project can get off the ground.”
The Furniture Department at the Abilities Foundation also recently received a boost from Digicel Foundation to the tune of J$2.9 million, which helped purchase new equipment and improve the infrastructure for its Furniture Department.
Digicel Foundation has so far supported 1,173 projects, impacting the lives of over 620,000 people across Jamaica to the value of US$33 Million.