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Story Highlights

  • The Abilities Foundation is to benefit from the injection of over $10 million from the Ministry of Labour and Social Security (MLSS) for the new academic year, which gets underway in September.
  • The Abilities Foundation was established in November 1991 and is a registered voluntary organisation providing quality vocational education to persons with disabilities to enable them to function as creative and productive citizens.
  • It works in collaboration with the Ministry, and the HEART Trust/NTA.

The Abilities Foundation is to benefit from the injection of over $10 million from the Ministry of Labour and Social Security (MLSS) for the new academic year, which gets underway in September.

The allocation, under the Japanese Development Grant-funded Economic Improvement Project, is intended to boost education and skills training offerings provided for persons with disabilities.

Managing Director of the Abilities Foundation, Susan Hamilton, informed that $6.38 million was provided under the project during the last academic year.

The grant went towards procuring a projector, laptop and recorders for visually impaired persons; providing a stipend for trainees benefiting under the Programme for Advancement Through Health and Education (PATH); and efforts to enhance capacity building and institutional strengthening.

The institution also received assistance from the Digicel Foundation, which donated $3.2 million for the refurbishing of the furniture department.

Ms. Hamilton, who was addressing the Foundation’s graduation ceremony, held recently at the Knutsford Court Hotel in New Kingston, said the assistance provided helped to boost student outcomes, resulting in a 95 per cent improvement in scores.

“Just by getting the grant, the students were excited to learn and were enthused to produce goods, and the teachers were empowered. This grant has allowed Abilities Foundation to be one of the best furnituremaking sites in Kingston and St. Andrew,” she said.

Ms. Hamilton said as a result of the improvements, the HEART Trust/NTA, coming out of its last facility audit, indicated that it is looking into giving the Foundation approved centre status.

 

The Managing Director, while welcoming the support, noted that the students continue to face employment challenges, and appealed to “both public and private sector entities to be more open to persons with disabilities in the workplace.”

She thanked the National Youth Service (NYS) for partnering with the institution to place some of its graduates in temporary jobs.

A total of 44 special needs students participated in the school-leaving service.

Over 10 students will participate in this year’s Special Olympics beginning on July 25 in California, United States of America. The students will take part in football, basketball and athletics.

Minister of Labour and Social Security, Hon. Derrick Kellier, in his message delivered by Chief Technical Director at the Ministry, Errol Miller, congratulated the graduates on their achievements.

“These students are living with various types of disabilities and what they have achieved is testimony to the fact that persons with disabilities can achieve their full potential if they are given the right assistance and opportunity,” he said.

Minister Kellier urged the graduates to do their part to encourage inclusion in society through their career choices.

“Courageously consider entrepreneurship ventures where you could provide services to persons with disabilities as well as non-disabled clients. Think about careers as specialised teachers in your areas of expertise to teach your peers. Consider vocations as public advocates, youth ambassadors or political spokespersons for persons with disabilities,” he advised.

Valedictorian, Matthew Grant, who spoke under the theme: ‘Conquering the Odds,’ said that while the journey was sometimes difficult,  it was made easier, through the support of family, teachers and other members of staff.

 

“As a result of the support, we have achieved what many thought we could not. Instead of giving into fears and doubts that we cannot achieve, now each of us can confidently say I can. We are ready to take our rightful place in and leave our mark,” he said.

The Abilities Foundation was established in November 1991 and is a registered voluntary organisation providing quality vocational education to persons with disabilities to enable them to function as creative and productive citizens.

It works in collaboration with the Ministry, and the HEART Trust/NTA.

Skills training is provided in the garment construction, cabinet making, information technology and horticulture and landscaping, in addition to courses in entrepreneurship, vocational guidance, mathematics and English.