Within months of opening its tenth and final Centre of Excellence, the Digicel Foundation is reporting “tremendous improvement” in the progress of the 51 Special Needs students enrolled there. The school, opened its doors in September 2017 in the seaside village of Lyssons in St. Thomas and is showing tremendous potential for the further development of students’ learning skills. With help and support coming from the wider community the prospects for its plans and programmes in 2018 are looking up.
“Our students have shown vast improvement in all areas.” Centre Coordinator, Jacqueline Hendricks Wilmot, shared while expressing her gratitude for the school building from Digicel Foundation.
Constructed at a cost of over J$36.6 million, the school comprises three classrooms, a kitchen, a lunch area, students’ and teachers’ bathrooms, a sick bay and an administrative block. The classrooms, kitchen, lunch and administrative areas were provided fully furnished.
Of the 51 students with Special Needs who are showing improvements, 8 are on the autism spectrum at different levels, one has physical challenges and the others show varying levels of intellectual disabilities.
“We remain committed to enhancing the lives of, and providing opportunities for members of the Special Needs community in Jamaica,” said Jean Lowrie-Chin, Chairman of the Digicel Jamaica Foundation. She continued, “During the commemoration of our 10th anniversary in 2014, we pledged to construct or fully equip ten (10) Special Needs facilities in Jamaica and we are elated to see the completion of this project.”
The school plans to offer a technical vocational programme to develop the students’ skills in digital animation, agriculture, welding, home economics, numeracy and literacy.
This Centre of Excellence is keeping parents in the picture with the recent launch of its ‘Phenomenal Parents Month. Hendricks Wilmot explained, “We brought the parents in every week, with demonstrations on healthy meal preparation. Nutrition is high on our agenda because it also contributes to the complete development of every student.” She added the school wants to set up a breakfast to further promote healthy eating habits. As a routine, parents now met for round table talks at the school about students’ nutrition, sharing best practices and airing the challenges they face, while seeking solutions.
“This Centre of Excellence is poised for growth. We have the energy! We are not lazy, we work hard,” commented Mrs. Hendricks Wilmot. She concluded, “The children are so excited about all the learning possibilities.”