- Students attending STIM-PLUS Early Childhood Development Centre in Rockfort, East Kingston, now have access to a new, fully equipped facility with specialised equipment to enhance learning.
- The temporary facility will house the students of the Early Stimulation Programme (ESP), while a permanent structure is being constructed by the Ministry of Labour and Social Security.
- The aim is to provide an improved learning environment for children with disabilities, who are current PATH beneficiaries.
Students attending the Stimulation-Plus (STIM-PLUS) Early Childhood Development Centre in Rockfort, East Kingston, now have access to a new, fully equipped facility with specialised equipment to enhance learning.
Erected by the Digicel Foundation at a cost of $30 million, the temporary facility will house the students of the Early Stimulation Programme (ESP), while a permanent structure is being constructed by the Ministry of Labour and Social Security.
It boasts a therapy room, canteen, administrative offices and six temporary classroom spaces.
The provision of the structure is the result of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), between the Ministry and the Foundation, which was signed in October last year, for the enhancement of the ESP, which caters to children with disabilities.
The aim is to provide an improved learning environment for children with disabilities, who are current beneficiaries of the Programme of Enhancement Through Health and Education (PATH), and other vulnerable children from lower socioeconomic backgrounds benefiting from the services of the ESP.
At the official handing over on February 18, Portfolio Minister, Hon. Derrick Kellier, commended Digicel for its “magnificent corporate gesture” which “demonstrates convincingly, its commitment towards improving the quality of services provided to children and persons with disabilities”.
“I am certain that the partnership we have forged with the Foundation in this specific regard will go a long way in assisting the Government of Jamaica in the achievement of its mandate for the protection of the rights and freedoms of persons with disabilities,” he said.
The permanent structure to be built by the Ministry, include classrooms, a therapy room, a staff room, bathrooms, a specialised play area and a kitchen, and perimeter fencing. Once completed, the temporary facility will be utilized as administrative offices and staff training rooms.
The final phase of the project will see the construction of a new facility to accommodate the Assessment Centre at 95 Hanover Street. This will include an Assessment Clinic, staff room, physiotherapy room and play area.
“This work is being completed through another fruitful partnership under a MoU with the Jamaica Social Investment Fund (JSIF)…This will see us transforming the lives at least 200 children who will benefit directly from the services provided through the Stimulation Pus educational facilities,” the Minister informed.
Mr. Kellier noted that, additionally, under the Social and Economic Inclusion of Persons with Disabilities Project, financing in the amount of US$2.7 million by the Japanese Government and the World Bank will facilitate training and employment of 500 persons with disabilities on PATH and the strengthening of the services offered by the ESP through the provision of equipment and adaptive aids.
“This will build the capacity of the staff, and provide support to parents and caregivers of children with disabilities,” he said.
In the meantime, Executive Director, Digicel Foundation, Samantha Chantrelle, said the partnership was part of the organisation’s commitment to support the advancement of children with special needs.
She informed that the facilities will be fully set up with all the required equipment by the end of the week.
Principal of STIM-PLUS, Antonica Gunter-Gayle, said she was overwhelmed by the assistance the institution has received, noting that it will go a far way in enhancing the lives of the 120 students currently enrolled and those to benefit in the future.
She noted that the new facilities will provide an opportunity for students to grow and develop in a normal, comfortable environment.
Member of Parliament for East Kingston and Port Royal and Minister of Science, Technology, Energy and Mining, Hon. Phillip Paulwell also welcomed the initiative.
STIM-PLUS is a component of the ESP, which has been catering to the needs of disabled children and their families for over 30 years.
Since its inception in 1975, the programme has benefitted approximately 20,000 children across the island with various types of disabilities. Currently, the programme offers centre and community-based services to over 1,241 children.