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KINGSTON — State Minister for Labour and Social Security, Hon. Andrew Gallimore, says that special needs children must be fully included in society, so that they can be empowered to play their role in the development of the nation.

This process, he said, should start as early as possible to ensure that these children are equipped with the fundamental values and principles that they will need.

"What we need in Jamaica, for our toddlers growing up, is to mainstream our children with disabilities to make them feel like every other citizen in this country, to let them know that in planning the future and the development of this country, their situation is taken on board and that we…recognise that they have a role to play in building first world Jamaica," Mr. Gallimore said.

“It is important that they are included in everything and that we encourage children with or without disabilities to study, play, and spend as much time as possible together to remove all the little myths that persons, who don’t have a disability have in their mind,” he added at yesterday's ceremony to launch Child Month Action Day 2011, at the Stimulation Plus Child Development Centre in Kingston.

Mr. Gallimore congratulated those, who have contributed to the development of children, particularly those with special needs, and encouraged them to continue in this important task.

For her part, Chairperson, National Child Month Committee, Dr. Pauline Mullings, reiterated the critical role that adults play in the life of a child.

She said that the "village raising a child" concept should be reinforced in the country, noting that "adults have become far too busy."

“Do you only care about your children? Have you taken time out to look out for the neighbour's children and the child that you don’t know, but who you see doing something wrong?” she asked.

Action Day is the children’s equivalent of Labour Day, where adults, parents and guardians get involved in a project, which seeks to assist others.

This year’s national Action Day project is the refurbishing of the stimulation room at the Stimulation Plus Child Development Centre, 1A Ostend Close, Kingston. Under the Child Month theme: ‘Our World…Their Future…Our Responsibility,' the scope of work involves painting, installation of tiles and gardening at the centre.

The centre evolved out of the Labour Ministry’s Early Stimulation Programme, which was started in 1975 and provides developmental assessment and early intervention for children from birth to six years, who exhibit some form of developmental delay.

The facility caters to children with Down’s syndrome, cerebral palsy, learning disabilities, behavioural problems and mental retardation, among others.

 

By CHRIS PATTERSON, JIS Reporter