JIS: Fifty children with various mental and physical disabilities have been equipped for primary-level studies, having successfully completed the Early Stimulation Programme’s (ESP) special intervention curriculum.
Of the number, 35 will move on to special education primary-level programmes, while 15 will matriculate to the regular school system.
At the annual graduation ceremony held on Wednesday (July 12) at the ESP Assessment Centre and Multipurpose Facility on Hanover Street, downtown Kingston, the young graduates were presented with certificates and lunch bags in preparation for the next stage of their education.
Director/Principal of the ESP, Antonica Gunter-Gayle, told JIS News that the programme has had a tremendous impact on the children, and expressed her pleasure at their successful advancement to primary-level education.
“We are very proud, because many of them, when they came to us, they were unable to do a number of ordinary tasks – feed themselves, sit, smile. But thanks to the special intervention provided through this programme, they now have the requisite skills to move on,” she noted.
“We focus on the cognitive, language, social, emotional and the fine and gross motor skills. We work with them in stages to reach their highest potential and to prepare them to acquire pre-readiness skills to move on to the primary level,” she added.
The ceremony was attended by family, friends and ESP staff; representatives from the Ministry of Labour and Social Security, the Early Childhood Commission (ECC), and partner agencies Guardian Life and Digicel Foundation; and Member of Parliament (MP) for Central Kingston, Rev. Ronald Thwaites.
Established in 1975, the ESP is a special intervention programme catering to children, up to six years old, who suffer from various disabilities.
Administered by the Ministry of Labour and Social Security, the programme forms part of the Government’s social safety net designed to assist the vulnerable and poor in society.
It serves more than 1,500 children through facilities in Kingston and a community-based rehabilitation programme in Portland.
The Hanover Street headquarters, which was upgraded by the Government through $87 million in funding from the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), will enable the ESP to improve assessment and intervention services for children with disabilities.
CAPTION: Chairman of the Early Childhood Commission (ECC), Trisha Williams-Singh (left), and Chief Technical Officer in the Ministry of Labour and Social Security, Damion Cox, share a moment with valedictorian for the Early Stimulation Programme’s (ESP) 2017 Graduating Class, André Campbell. Occasion was the annual school-leaving exercise held on Wednesday (July 12) at the ESP’s new assessment centre and multipurpose facility located on Hanover Street in downtown Kingston.