The Early Stimulation Programme (ESP) will be hosting an awards ceremony in honour of its founders, at the Ministry of Labour and Social Security, 1F North Street, in Kingston, on December 5, starting at 2:30 p.m.
Director of the ESP, Antonica Gunter-Gayle, said that the purpose of the ceremony is to highlight the work of Dr. Marigold Thorburn, and Family Nurse Practitioner, Mrs. Joyce Brown, who established the Programme in 1975.
“We want to show these extraordinary persons that we are truly grateful for such an intervention that has touched the lives of so many children with disabilities. We also want to show them that their efforts were not wasted, having successfully graduated hundreds of students that are doing, and have done well, academically,” she said.
She noted that the ESP over the past 37 years has been catering to children with varying types of developmental disabilities, age ranging from birth to six years old.
“We have realised that parents of children with special needs that come to us for assistance are unable to afford private services to foster their children’s overall development. An intervention such as the ESP serves a fulfilling purpose, and has boosted the spirits of both the parents and youngsters, that there is hope, regardless of the many challenges faced,” Mrs. Gunter-Gayle said.
She highlighted that many of the children who have been a part of the Programme, have excelled in a number of capacities in many prominent organisations islandwide, despite their disabilities.
“Some of them have matriculated to tertiary institutions, while others have become entrepreneurs. It is truly heart-warming to see them thriving, because most of them, when they came to us at first, could not walk or speak properly, so to see them surpass what was expected of them, is admirable,” the Director said.
She mentioned that the ESP has given children with special needs a chance to reach their fullest potential, hence the reason for showing appreciation for such a programme, with the honouring of the pioneers.
“As we continue to celebrate Jamaica’s 50th year of Independence, we want these persons to know that they have done a fantastic job, as it relates to the initiation and the continuity of the programme,” Mrs. Gunter-Gayle said.
She pointed out that the Programme was established when there was no other intervention to meet the needs of children with disabilities in Jamaica, and has grown from strength to strength.
More than 30,000 children have benefited from the ESP since its inception. For further information on the ESP, persons can call 922-5585 or visit their office at 95 Hanover Street, in downtown Kingston.