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Welcomed support for Mobay autism awareness march

Monday, April 07, 2014    

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MONTEGO BAY, St James — More than 100 persons participated in last Friday's staging of the annual Autism Awareness Street March hosted by the Montego Bay Autism Centre (MBAC) in collaboration with the Digicel Foundation.

Representatives from the Urban Development Corporation, Rotary Club Sunrise Montego Bay, Mega Mart, Doctor's Cave, Jamaica Council for Persons with Disabilities (JCPD), Rainforest Seafood, Kiwanis Club, and Digicel Foundation, participated in the march, held under the theme "Autism different in extraordinary ways".

After launching out from the Dead End Beach, the marchers gathered at the popular Dump Up Beach in the resort city for a parade ceremony promoting autism awareness.

Head of Sales for Digicel in western Jamaica Joy Clark declared the telecommunication company's "unwavering commitment to transforming the sector of special needs in Jamaica".

"We are dedicated to helping to increase the quality and quantity of resources available to our special needs community," Clark said.

She added: "In 2012 the Digicel Foundation announced, right here in Montego Bay, the approval of a grant of $31 million for the construction of a new school for the Naz Children's Centre which will cater to children with special needs such as autism, Down's syndrome, learning delays, and cerebral palsy."

Meanwhile, director of the Montego Bay Autism Awareness Centre Adama Blagrove expressed kudos to the Digicel Foundation for entering into partnership with her organisation.

"We have tried so hard to have the voices of our children heard, so when we found out that the Digicel Foundation was coming on board, we celebrated because we knew immediately that their involvement would help us to deliver on this very important objective," Blagrove said. "We are so excited about their vision in deciding to pay it forward and contribute to the future development of these children."

The Montego Bay Autism Centre street march started six years ago with a group which included four parents, their children and staff members from the centre.

Chief Executive Officer of Digicel Foundation Samantha Chantrelle said she is delighted that the foundation is able to be a part of activities geared towards improving autism awareness and greater acceptance of members of the autistic community.

Autism is the world's fastest growing developmental disorder. It is a lifelong disability with a normal life expectancy. Autistic children show delays or regression in speech, social skills and physical abilities.

Nearly 500 autistic children are born in Jamaica annually. Early interventions, such as speech, occupational and behavioural modification and physical therapies, give children a chance at a normal life.

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