Fri | May 24, 2019

Special-needs children get assistance

Published:Saturday | February 16, 2019 | 12:25 AM
Minister of Labour and Social Security Shahine Robinson (second left) and permanent secretary in the ministry, Colette Roberts Risden (second right), assist parent Jody Thomas with placing her son, David Forrest, behind his new special-needs walker on Tuesday at the Early Stimulation Programme’s offices in downtown Kingston. Sharing the moment is Deputy Head of Mission in the Embassy of Japan Shinichi Yamanaka.

Eighty special-needs children have been given equipment to deal with their circumstance by the Ministry of Labour and Social Security in partnership with the World Bank and the Japanese Embassy.

The handover of wheelchairs, hearing aids and walkers to parents and guardians took place at the Early Stimulation Programme location on Hanover Street in downtown Kingston on Tuesday.

Minister of Labour and Social Security Shahine Robinson said the assistive aids will go a far way in allowing the recipients and their parents to focus on their abilities.

“Our goal as a country is to empower persons with disabilities and to have that inclusive society for all,” she said.

The minister also thanked the partners for offering assistance. “Allow me to place on record, on behalf of the Government and people of Jamaica, sincere appreciation to the World Bank and the government and people of Japan for their unwavering support for social-protection programmes,” she added.

For his part, Deputy Head of Mission in the Embassy of Japan, Shinichi Yamanaka, said his country is pleased to have donated towards children living with special needs in Jamaica.

“The government of Japan proudly supports the highly important matter of social and economic inclusion of persons with disabilities, especially the most vulnerable, children with special needs who require assisted technologies, manipulative and other critical resources that allow them to develop their skills and abilities,” Yamanaka said.

“Japan shares the same idea and vision with the Government of Jamaica for the inclusion of persons with disabilities,” he added.

Meanwhile, Antonica Gunter Gayle, director, Early Stimulation Plus, expressed gratitude on behalf of the students and parents who received the equipment.

“It’s not just about assisting a child. It’s not just about mobility. For me, it (the donation) is about equality. It is about opportunity. It is about the quality of life. It is about inclusion, and it’s about changing lives. Seeing our children being given this assistance gives me a really good feeling,” she said.

Cecile Johnson, who accompanied her grandchild who is living with cerebral palsy, said she is extremely grateful for the new wheelchair that she received.

“It will assist my granddaughter to sit up, and while going to school, it’s a special chair that allows her to sit up [in class] because she can’t sit up by herself. The seat has braces, including one for her head,” she said.

Parent André Forrester, who also has a son living with cerebral palsy, said he, too, was after receiving a walker.

“The walker will help with his mobility, and that will help him to explore. It should also get him more interested in stuff and will help with his entire learning process, just by increasing his mobility,” Forrester said.

Since its inception in 1975, the Early Stimulation Programme has been transforming lives and making the future brighter for youngsters living with varying types of developmental disabilities.