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The Ministry of Justice’s Victim Services Division (VSD) has received play therapy tools from the Jamaica National (JN) Foundation to be used as therapeutic aides in the recovery process for children who are victims of crime.

The provisions, valued $1 million, include books, dolls, and puppets that will be used to outfit the play therapy area at a VSD service point in Trelawny. They were handed over during a virtual ceremony on Friday (October 16).

Justice Minister, Hon. Delroy Chuck, who spoke during the ceremony, thanked the JN Foundation for the donation, describing it as a “significant boost” to the intervention programmes underpinning the healing process for children who are victims of crime.

“This donation…will, no doubt, help to minimise incidents of trauma, and provide much needed therapy,” he added.

Minister Chuck also commended the VSD for its innovative response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, through the continued provision of client support virtually.

The VSD has expanded its operations by offering e-counselling services, audio-visual communication such as videoconferencing and virtual meetings, to provide real-time therapy and consultations.

Director, Osbourne Bailey, said the unit has responded to the challenges posed by the pandemic by moving much of its client interactions online, to facilitate the continued providing counselling services for children.

“These tools can be used face-to-face or in e-counselling. It is the counsellor who will be using the tools to work with the children. For example, we have anatomically correct dolls that will allow a child to explain if they have [inappropriately touched]. These items can be used virtually as well as in-person, because we still see some clients while observing [physical] distancing and safety protocols,” he said.

Mr. Bailey also thanked the JN Foundation for its support, noting that “the provision of counselling for children requires specialized resources”.

This, he added, “because children require a medium that will allow them to communicate in a language familiar to them, and play is language of communication for a child”.

JN Foundation General Manager, Onyka Barrett Scott, said proceeds from the entity’s annual ‘Heroes in Action’ Run/Walk were used to procure the play therapy tools.

“With this donation, which includes furniture to help outfit the play therapy room, we have no doubt that this will help the VSD to better administer counselling to children exposed to trauma and crime,” she said, while lauding the agency for its stellar work “at such a critical time in our society”.

The Victim Support Division provides therapeutic intervention for persons impacted by crime, through its network of 14 parish offices.

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