Best Care School to increase student roster

Monday, July 23, 2018

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The Best Care Special Education School will grow its student base from its current roster of 50 to a minimum of 75 by November, according to Best Care Foundation Chairman Orville Johnson.

The school will not only increase its student population but also enhance its curriculum, Johnson stated in an address at the foundation's annual fund-raising gala at Jamaica Pegasus hotel in New Kingston on July 14.

“Great things are going to happen on our one acre property. We are on the move,” a JN Foundation news release quoted Johnson.

The school, which opened eight years ago at 11 Trevennion Road in Kingston, caters to children aged six to 20 who are diagnosed with mild to severe intellectual and physical disabilities.

The curriculum includes, music, cosmetology, handcraft, jewellery making, agriculture, horticulture, a sports programme geared towards the Special Olympics, as well as vocational and life skills to help students become employable so that they can lead independent lives.

“One Best Care Lodge resident gained a silver and a bronze medal in the International Special Olympics in the 1980s,” the chairman stated. “We plan to boost our sport programme with the aim of repeating that achievement.”

The institution emerged from the kindergarten and primary school that was part of the now-closed Best Care Lodge, which operated on the same premises from 1976. The property was bought by the JCI St Andrew, then known as the St Andrew Jaycees, in 1984 from a public appeal for funds.

The Best Care Foundation was established in 1984 to take ownership of the property. A registered charity, the foundation serves the disabled community by providing special education to the children of those who are unable to afford expensive private tuition.

Johnson said that the foundation is working to develop a partnership with the Ministry of Education to achieve grant-in-aid status that will put the school on a sustainable financial path.

“We are seeking to provide the opportunity for ordinary working persons to find a space where their child can achieve their greatest potential,” he said. “Every child deserves that opportunity.”

He said that the gala is one of the foundation's main fund-raising efforts, and had been a success. He thanked the guests and the event's sponsors for their support.

Earl Samuels, chief development financing officer of The Jamaica National (JN)Group, title sponsors of the event, said, “We embrace the notion that our group of companies must play a part in the nurturing of our children, particularly those who are in great need of special care and attention. Therefore, we at the JN Group pledge to continue to make life more meaningful for the children 'Best Care' serves,” the release quoted Samuels.

He said that The Jamaica National Group's support for Best Care Foundation dated back more than four decades, and he urged guests to help “provide more opportunities to enhance the lives of the students at the Best Care Special Education School”.

Senator Dr Floyd Morris told the audience of his own experience as a physically challenged person leaving a school system which did not cater to his needs, and having achieved no academic qualifications. He said it was only through “relentless” work that he was able to complete his Doctorate in Philosophy in 2017.

“Persons with disabilities are often pushed aside and kept in some back room at home,” the release quoted Senator Morris. “We need to work with them to maximise their possibilities… and our educational institutions need to become accessible to people with disabilities.”

Dr Sanneta Myrie, Miss Jamaica World 2015, congratulated the Best Care Foundation for its work with the children. “Best Care, by providing literacy, numeracy and communication skills training, is transforming these children from persons who suffered from their disability into people who can live productive lives,” she said.

The gala included a silent auction, which was another element in the fund-raising efforts by the foundation.

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