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More Children with Special Needs to be Reached


JIS: The Ministry of Education, Youth and Information is working with the Ministry of Labour and Social Security to reach more children with special needs.


Education Minister, Senator the Hon. Ruel Reid, who spoke with JIS News at the official opening of the $70-million Stimulation-Plus Early Childhood Centre in Rockfort, Kingston, on Friday (May 18), said the collaboration will ensure that all children who suffer from various disabilities or challenges receive the necessary early-intervention services.


He said he has requested data from the Social Security Ministry to ascertain the number of underserved children across the island. “We need to have that data, so we have everybody accounted for,” he noted.


Minister Reid is encouraging parents not to be ashamed if their children have any kind of disability, noting that “it is just how God made them, and we need to give them more love and care, so that they can become independent adults”.


He pointed out that with adequate early stimulation they can make a meaningful contribution to society.


“Your child may be born with these challenges, but, with support, they can make something good of themselves,” the Minister said.


Executive Director of the Early Stimulation Programme (ESP), Antonica Gunter Gayle, said the partnership between the two Ministries is welcome, as many more children will be reached.


“This data that is requested by the Minister is important in order for us to provide for them. Children with special needs have potential; they only need the opportunity. We ask that parents give them support to become the best that they can be,” Mrs. Gunter Gayle said.


The Stimulation-Plus Early Childhood Centre, operated by the ESP, comprises seven classrooms, administrative offices, sickbay, physiotherapy room and specialised play area, among other amenities.


It was built through funding from the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB).


CAPTION: Minister of Education, Youth and Information, Senator the Hon. Ruel Reid (seated third right), observes as student at the Stimulation-Plus Early Childhood Centre, Aidane Lawrence (third left), completes a puzzle. Also looking on (from left) are Managing Director of the Jamaica Social Investment Fund (JSIF), Omar Sweeney; Executive Director of the Early Stimulation Programme (ESP), Antonica Gunter Gayle; Chief of Operations at the Inter-American Bank (IDB), Adriana La Valley; and State Minister in the Ministry of Labour and Social Security, Hon. Zavia Mayne. Occasion was the official opening of the $70-million centre in Rockfort, Kingston, on May 18.