LAST week Tuesday, Read Across Jamaica Day, The Maia Chung Autism and Disabilities Foundation and the administration of Ocho Rios Primary School in St Ann officially launched an alliance aimed at helping the many special needs children in the parish.
Chung presented $10,000 worth of reading material and art supplies to kick-start the Quinn Garren James Smith Special Students Library, for the development of special needs students at the school.
Quinn Smith is the official ambassador of the foundation. The idea is to replicate these interventions throughout schools in St Ann which have a need.
The partnership was facilitated by one of the school's guidance counsellors Kellian Davis, and fully endorsed by the school's administration.
It will see the identification of a space on the school compound for the students to go to receive the extra support they need to achieve academic excellence.
The area will be stocked with the various material requirements for the children, courtesy of the Maia Chung Autism and Disabilities Foundation.
“The needs of the autism-affected children at Ocho Rios Primary School represent similar scenarios throughout rural Jamaica, where schools with special needs students do not have the resources necessary for these children to have as fair an academic chance as the defined neuro-typical learner,” Chung explained.
Meanwhile, general manager of the foundation, Wickham Smith, explained that the foundation, which has been successfully functioning since 2008, has primarily been able to help mostly urban autism-affected families, because it functions solely on donor funding and is very stretched to provide services across the country.
“Typically most of the work has remained focused in the nation's capital where more special needs options are centralised and are easier to fund,” he said.
But in 2017 Dolphin Cove Jamaica donated approximately $1 million to aid the work of the foundation in academic support for autistic and special needs children, and this was fed into the foundation's scholarship and academic fund, to benefit children in St Ann, the parish where the company is located.
“We need more companies like Dolphin Cove whose tangible investment into the community is what has given the foundation a decade of successful non-stop work in improving the lives of autism-affected families in Jamaica and members of other challenged groups,” Chung said.