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Story Highlights

  • Special needs children in Portland and surrounding parishes now have access to a fully equipped centre that will facilitate their holistic development.
  • Minister without Portfolio in the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation, Hon. Daryl Vaz, said the state-of-the-art centre will help to “break down any barriers, which would have prevented any child from receiving an education, or some form of training.”
  • For her part, Senior Supervisor at the facility, Charmaine Wilks, said the centre will provide “proactive” support to the special needs community.

Special needs children in Portland and surrounding parishes now have access to a fully equipped centre that will facilitate their holistic development.

The Mickhail Betancourt Building, located in Orange Bay, was established through partnership between the Government and the Digicel Foundation.

It will be operated by the Early Stimulation Programme (ESP) in the Ministry of Labour and Social Security.

The $30 million facility is named in honour of late resident of the parish and employee of Digicel, Mickhail Betancourt, who volunteered his time and efforts to assisting needy persons.

Speaking at the official opening on Thursday (April 7), Minister of Labour and Social Security, Hon. Shahine Robinson, said the facility is in keeping with the Government’s focus on social inclusion and integration of persons with disabilities.

She praised the work of the ESP staff, and urged them to ensure that the new facility becomes “a focal point for development and growth,” in the parish.

“We hope that the leadership, best practices, and support to be provided at this centre will lay the foundation for increased growth and success,” the Minister said.

She further encouraged Jamaicans to lend support to the parents of children with disabilities “and remind them that they are not alone.”

Minister without Portfolio in the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation, Hon. Daryl Vaz, said the state-of-the-art centre will help to “break down any barriers, which would have prevented any child from receiving an education, or some form of training.”

He called for greater respect for persons with special needs, noting that they are important contributors to the development of the society.

Chairman of the Digicel Foundation, Jean Lowrie-Chin, said the organisation is committed to empowering the special needs community, and the centre stands as a testament of that unwavering support.

For her part, Senior Supervisor at the facility, Charmaine Wilks, said the centre will provide “proactive” support to the special needs community.

More than 100 children with special needs will benefit from diagnosis and early intervention services. Teachers have been trained in the areas of speech, behaviour, physical, special education and occupational therapy.