JIS News

Story Highlights

  • Minister of Labour and Social Security, Hon. Dr. Fenton Ferguson, says approval has been granted for the construction of an additional facility for the Early Stimulation Programme (ESP), at a cost of $86 million.
  • This improvement, he said, will create greater quality service and comfort for the persons who utilise the programme.
  • The ESP, which operates under the Ministry of Labour and Social Security, caters to the educational and development needs of children with special needs.

Minister of Labour and Social Security, Hon. Dr. Fenton Ferguson, says approval has been granted for the construction of an additional facility for the Early Stimulation Programme (ESP), at a cost of  $86 million.

This improvement, he said, will create greater quality service and comfort for the persons who utilise the programme.

The new facility, which will be built at the ESP’s Hanover Street location, in downtown Kingston, will include an assessment centre, as well as therapy and treatment rooms to offer physical therapy and speech therapy, among other types of treatment.

Speaking at the ESP’s 40th Anniversary Parents Appreciation and Awards Ceremony, at the Ministry of Labour and Social Security, North Street, on December  1, the Minister said  ground will be broken for the  building by year end.

Some 100 parents of children with disabilities who utilise the services of the ESP were honoured at the event.

Dr. Ferguson extended congratulations to the parents for their continued perseverance through the difficult task of caring for children with disabilities.

“As you celebrate today, I want to recognize you for the work you have done. I know it has not been easy, as it can be expensive, even as it is demanding,” he said.

The Minister said the Government is committed to protecting the rights of the disabled community, adding that the ESP will continue to grow and develop under his leadership.

Dr. Ferguson made a call for the Jamaican society to continually demonstrate support for the parents in their efforts to raise families with disabled members.

“For persons with children with disabilities or special needs, it’s not just about the parents, it’s about the family and the family being the basic unit of society. It  means that it impacts a significant number of persons across Jamaica,” he noted.

Director of the ESP, Mrs. Antonica Gunter-Gayle, in an interview with JIS News, said the infrastructural improvements will be very beneficial to the work of the ESP.

“We serve a number of young children with disabling conditions. The environment for children with special needs should be conducive to intervention and to learning. I believe this is really crucial to the development of the children,” she said.

In August, a new ESP facility, known as Stimulation-Plus (STIM-PLUS), valued at over $30 million, was also opened in Portland, through the support of  the Digicel Foundation.

The ESP, which operates under the Ministry of Labour and Social Security, caters to the educational and development needs of children with special needs. Since its inception in 1975, the programme has benefitted approximately 20,000 children across the island with various types of disabilities. Currently, the programme offers centre and community-based services to over 1,241 children.