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Hope is alive at Glenhope Nursery

BY BALFORD HENRY Observer senior staff reporter balfordh@jamaicaobserver.com

Sunday, March 23, 2014    

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HOPE springs eternal behind the walls of the Glenhope Nursery in the inner-city community of Maxfield Park, and since Thursday, it has become evidence of things to come for the 44 infants domiciled within its walls.

Minister of Finance and Planning, Dr Peter Phillips, who is also the Member of Parliament for the area, took time off from his busy schedule to share the proposed leap forward for the facility, which is being adopted by fast growing food and drink distributors, Caribbean Producer's Jamaica (CPJ), as its latest corporate outreach project.

The CPJ intervention tops a number of other projects initiated in recent months to assist the nursery, which is the smaller of two important child care institutions situated on the premises, including the older facility — the Glenhope Place of Safety for Girls — which was affected by a major fire in November, 2011.

CPJ's executive chairman, Mark Hart, chief revenue officer and Head of Marketing and Sales, Dr David Lowe, and representatives of the Child Development Agency (CDA) and the Social Development Commission (SDC) joined Phillips for the formalisation of the new relationship on Thursday.

Dr Lowe said that the relationship will be primarily based on getting the nursery upgraded to meet the required standards for registration of the nursery school by the Ministry of Education, to be followed by several other basic improvements to the lives of both wards and caregivers.

"We want to make it a model home and a catalyst for improving child care in Jamaica, and we will see to it that the facilities are upgraded and the environment improved," Hart told the Jamaica Observer, during a tour of the facility.

Dr Phillips welcomed CPJ's engagement, suggesting that the future of Glenhope seems more appropriately linked to developing a quality nursery and infant care institution, rather than the twinned facilities, including the home for girls, who are either wards of the state or awaiting court dates, which burnt down in 2011.

"The location is much more ideal for a nursery than a home for abandoned girls," Phillips suggested.

Manager of the nursery, Maxine Smith, welcomed the visitors and their suggestions, pointing out that she and her staff have been looking forward to this kind of help for a long, long time.

"There are so many things that we need, we are really grateful for the assistance," she told a brief meeting in her office prior to the tour.

To complete the process to get the school registered, the nursery needs wheelchair ramp, railings for the children, bathrooms for teachers and students, signage above the school entrance, and internet sourcing.

CPJ will also be assisting with the provision of cable service, a printer and a monthly supply of paper, an enrolled nurse to assist the children, Mondays to Fridays; and proper maintenance of the property.

Glenhope is one of only two specialist government facilities for children up to the age of eight in Jamaica. It is home to 15 girls and 29 boys, including some whom are up for adoption or foster care.

Nearly one-third of the children are lactose intolerant. One child suffers seizures for which medication worth $5,000 is needed every three weeks, and one child suffers from multiple disorders, needing daily care.

Until now, the nursery did not have the benefit of being adopted by a private sector company.

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