ESP to Get $87 Million Multipurpose Facility

Photo: Donald Delahaye Minister of Education, Hon. Rev. Ronald Thwaites (right), exchanges greetings with Executive Director of the Early Stimulation Programme (ESP), Antonica Gunter-Gayle. Occasion was the ground breaking ceremony for a new multi -purpose facility to house the Early Stimulation Programme (ESP), at Hanover Street, downtown Kingston on January 20.

Story Highlights

  • A new $87 million facility is to be built to house the Early Stimulation Programme (ESP), which caters to children with disabilities.
  • This structure will feature: three assessment rooms with bathrooms; speech therapy, physiotherapy, and meeting rooms; receptionist and waiting areas; a director’s office; cubicles for early childhood practitioners; green space and parking area.
  • “We are grateful for the contract that has been signed (and ground broken) to provide new facilities for the early childhood stimulation programme,” Rev. Thwaites said.

A new $87 million facility is to be built to house the Early Stimulation Programme (ESP), which caters to children with disabilities.

Ground was broken on Wednesday (January 20), for construction of a multi-purpose facility, at the programme’s location on Hanover Street, downtown Kingston.

The project will include demolition of the existing structure and construction of a modern administrative block and clinic.

This structure will feature: three assessment rooms with bathrooms; speech therapy, physiotherapy, and meeting rooms; receptionist and waiting areas; a director’s office; cubicles for early childhood practitioners; green space and parking area.

Funding is being provided under the Inter-American Development Bank’s (IDB) Integrated Social Protection and Labour Programme.

In his remarks, Minister of Labour and Social Security, Hon. Dr. Fenton Ferguson, stated his eagerness for the facility to become a reality.

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Minister of Labour and Social Security, Hon. Dr. Fenton Ferguson (third left), participates in the breaking of ground for construction of a multi-purpose facility to house the Early Stimulation Programme (ESP), at the programme’s location at Hanover Street, downtown Kingston this morning (Jan. 21). Others (from left) are: Social Protection Senior Specialist at the Inter-American Development Bank, Donna Harris; Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Labour and Social Security, Colette Roberts-Risden; Executive Director of the ESP, Antonica Gunter-Gayle; Chief Executive Officer of Marshall Construction Company Ltd, Alphanso Reynolds; and Project Director, Programme of Advancement Through Health and Education, Elsa Marks-Willis.

He said the multipurpose facility will enable the Ministry to engage a wide cadre of specialised professionals at the ESP, including developmental psychologists, speech and occupational therapists.

“Over time, we aim to establish early intervention centres on a regional basis, which will enable timely assessments and early intervention services at the ESP centres through a strengthened cadre of community-based intervention officers across the island,” he informed.

He said that through the home-based early intervention strategy, the Ministry is “doing its utmost” to reduce the number of young children with developmental disabilities needing institutionalisation across the island.

Minister of Education, Hon. Rev. Ronald Thwaites, in his remarks, urged the contractors to finish the work on schedule and within budget.

“We are grateful for the contract that has been signed (and ground broken) to provide new facilities for the early childhood stimulation programme,” Rev. Thwaites said.

Work on the facility is being undertaken by Marshall Construction Company over a six-month period, with the Jamaica Social Investment Fund (JSIF) providing technical management oversight.

The ESP caters to approximately 1,500 children with disabilities islandwide, with the majority of whom are from Kingston and St. Andrew, St. Catherine and Portland.

Approximately 30,000 children have been assisted by the programme since its inception in 1975 and over 6,000 of them have been placed in regular primary schools or special education centres.

JIS Social