JIS News

Story Highlights

  • Children with disabilities in Portland and surrounding parishes are to benefit from the construction of a $30 million Early Stimulation Programme (ESP) intervention centre.
  • Ground was broken for the facility yesterday (October 1), which is being constructed by the Government through funding from Digicel Foundation. To be situated in Orange Bay, the centre will accommodate over 100 children and 10 teachers and is expected to be completed within six months.
  • Minister of Labour and Social Security Minister, Hon. Derrick Kellier, in his remarks at the groundbreaking ceremony, said the partnership with Digicel Foundation will enhance the Ministry’s capacity to deliver services to children with disabilities and their families residing in Portland, St. Mary and sections of St. Thomas.

Children with disabilities in Portland and surrounding parishes are to benefit from the construction of a $30 million Early Stimulation Programme (ESP) intervention centre.

Ground was broken for the facility yesterday (October 1), which is being constructed by the Government through funding from Digicel Foundation. To be situated in Orange Bay, the centre will accommodate over 100 children and 10 teachers and is expected to be completed within six months.

Once operational, children in the eastern end of the island will no longer have to travel to Kingston to access the services of the ESP.

Minister of Labour and Social Security Minister, Hon. Derrick Kellier, in his remarks at the groundbreaking ceremony, said the partnership with Digicel Foundation will enhance the Ministry’s capacity to deliver services to children with disabilities and their families residing in Portland, St. Mary and sections of St. Thomas.

“We anticipate that with a centre permanently located in this community, residents will now benefit fully from the community-based rehabilitation, assessment, counselling and parenting workshops that will be offered,” he said.

Member of Parliament, West Portland, Daryl Vaz, welcomed the intervention centre, which he said, will greatly improve the lives of special needs children.

“The residents of West Portland and I feel especially privileged that this special educational facility that is inspired by our extraordinary Jamaican children, is located in the constituency and will serve children with special needs in the entire parish of Portland,” he said.

“We recognize this as an investment, not in monetary terms, but in the future of our children, the people, and the parish of Portland,” he added.

Mayor of Port Antonio, Councillor Benny White, said the ground breaking ceremony is “the beginning of something great for the community and the parish of Portland.”

Executive Director of the ESP, Antonica Gunter-Gayle, said she is “elated and overwhelmed” that the centre, which is “something we really longed for” is being constructed to serve the needs of children with disabilities in the eastern section of the island.

The Ministry’s ESP, which is an extension of the Jamaica Council for Persons with Disabilities (JCPD), is an assessment and early intervention programme for children with disabilities from birth to six years old.

Some of the disabilities include: multi-disabled, intellectually challenged, mental retardation, learning disabilities, impaired-hearing or vision, lacking in language development, the physically challenged, and children with cerebral palsy, down syndrome, and autism.