Digicel pumps nearly $40m into special needs facility
MONTEGO BAY, St James — SCORES of people gathered in Rose Hall in this tourist town for the recent ceremonial opening of the new state-of-the-art building for the NAZ Children's Centre.
The facility was constructed with a $36.7-million grant from the Digicel Foundation. Additional cash and in-kind contributions came from Rosehall Developments, Master Spas, Cascade Group, Spanish-Jamaica Foundation, Coldmax Mart Ltd and Maffessanti Architecture and Urban Design for the project.
The NAZ Children's Centre is a multi-faceted educational institution for average and above-average learners and children with special needs -- each of whom get specialised attention. They provide for students with learning and other challenges such as Down's Syndrome, autism, learning delays and cerebral palsy, which constitutes about half the student cohort.
The new facility will allow NAZ to double its special needs cohort to 100, as well as to offer the Leadership Education and Achievement Programme (LEAP) for special needs children over 13 years so they can learn skills in craftwork, landscaping and cosmetology.
The new building boasts a multifunctional library and computer room, five classrooms -- four of which are used for inclusive learning and one for customised instruction for children with severe mental or physical impairment.
The Digicel Foundation's partnership with NAZ forms part of its pledge to place the needs of persons with special needs at the forefront of national development. Over the last three years, the foundation has invested over $350 million to increase the quality of care being provided and the quantity of facilities for special needs communities.
Chief Executive Officer of the Foundation Samantha Chantrelle told the gathering that her organisation was committed to improving the lives of persons with special needs and that it intended
to create 10 centres of Excellence across the island by 2016.
Meanwhile, according to the founder and principal of NAZ, Alixann Narcisse-Campbell, "The students and staff are very excited and happy for this new building."