Centre for special needs children opens in Mocho

Monday, November 05, 2018

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MAY PEN, Clarendon — Children with special needs in Mocho, Clarendon now have access to a state-of-the-art unit that will facilitate development of their academic, behavioural and social skills.

A news release said that the facility, which is located at the Mocho Primary and Infant School, was officially handed over by Jamalco recently.

The new special education unit, which was originally a principal's cottage, was refurbished with a grant valued at some $2.9 million that was provided by Jamalco and the Noble Foundation — the charity arm of Jamalco's majority owner, Noble Group.

The centre is now equipped with a library, sensory room, reading room and computer tablets that were donated by Jamalco. The unit will also offer assessments and behaviour support services for students with special needs.

Managing director at Jamalco Austin Mooney said Jamalco's support for special needs education goes back many years and officially began when the company donated a parcel of land for the construction of the May Pen Unit for the Deaf located in Woodside, Clarendon, some 40 years ago.

“Children with special needs have been ignored for far too long and have been robbed of opportunities that are freely given to those children who are considered 'normal'. As a company, we believe that every child has the right to an education, this includes children with varying levels of disability or challenges, and this special education unit reflects this sentiment,” he said.

Mooney said Jamalco will continue to give support to special needs programmes. “We understand that special needs students come with extra demands, and Jamalco stands ready to partner with schools in our operating areas to ensure that no child is left behind because of their ability or disability,” he said.

In her overview, principal of the school Tina Reid, said as a classroom teacher, she witnessed first-hand the challenges faced by students with special needs who were not being catered to due to inadequate resources and infrastructure. It was out of this concern that she sought assistance from Jamalco when she assumed the role of acting principal in 2016.

“Our goal is for all students at Mocho Primary School to be successful and to reach their highest potential, and a disability should not stand in the way of them reaching their goals,” she said.

Keynote speaker and regional director in the Ministry of Education, Youth & Information Barrington Richards commended Jamalco for its “sterling contribution” to education. “Jamalco's provision of over US$20,000, through the Noble Foundation, to fund this resource centre is another indication of the company's commitment to education and wider corporate social outreach,” he said.

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