FRIDAY, JUNE 8, 2018: PORT OF SPAIN, TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO - One hundred educators and caregivers are closer to understanding the dynamics of ‘Behaviour’ and ‘Occupational Therapy’ for persons with disabilities, after participating in a two-day workshop hosted by the Digicel Foundation, Trinidad and Tobago (T&T), in partnership with the A&C Foundation out of Ireland, on May 24 and 25 at Signature Hall, Chaguanas.
The two- day workshop was designed to wrap up the three-year intervention in 15 schools and organisations that cater to persons with intellectual disabilities, examine the successes, findings and opportunities for peer learning and discuss public Sector involvement with an aim to making the initiative more sustainable.
While the audience anxiously awaited training in effective classroom management, behaviourial assessment, token economies, self-management, sensory processing disorders and handwriting strategies, many commented on the innovation of including two panel discussions which allowed parents to get a ‘seat at the table’ to mull over public sector processes and opportunities. The two panel discussions; themed - ‘Connecting your Needs’ and ‘An Intervention that works’ allowed participants to take a deep dive into issues surrounding accessing public services and support, while discovering initiatives that can lead to holistic development.
On day two, the room came alive as Occupational Therapist, Mohan Gopal and Behaviour Analyst, Shannon Eidman facilitated interactive sessions, sharing information on techniques and strategies to advance the quality of life for children with disabilities. One parent expressed “This was a great session, I learned a lot and I am encouraged to see what was presented to me, thank you Digicel Foundation- keep making this investment in special education.” The Foundation invested US $17,000 in the two-day workshop.
In fact, the Trinidad Foundation has spent the past six years supporting projects that advance the lives of persons with special needs. Programmes with a focus on sport for development, inclusion, sex and sexuality and disaster preparedness, are just a few of the areas that Foundation has made an impact over the years. The Therapy–based Education programme was conceptualized in 2014, after feedback from teachers and caregivers showed that a significant intervention was needed in the area of special education with a focus on therapy. The programme took a multifaceted approach to education for persons with intellectual disabilities, and after an investment by the Foundation of US$264,000 over the past three years, 15 schools, 884 students, and 158 teachers have benefitted.
The first-of-a-kind programme on the twin isle was done in three phases and included the development of therapy rooms, procurement of therapy equipment and ICT to assist with the sustainability of the intervention.
Penny Gomez, CEO Digicel Foundation T&T said of the event, “The workshop is the culmination of three years of investing in a cross section of the population that needs special attention if we are to create a world where no one is left behind. The Foundation, through this intervention continues to answer the call from stakeholders to connect them to experts in the field to acquire knowledge, receive practical training and through the supply of specialised equipment, to aptly teach the ones in their care in turn.”