'A wow moment'
Centre for children with disabilities gets help after Observer story
JN Fund Managers executives Dania Palmer (left), research manager, and Delories Jones, senior vice-president of sales and marketing, paint the play area at Alpha Infant Primary School as their Labour Day project. They also installed recycle bins at the school.(Photo: Garfield Robinson)

Operations at the Enos Barrett Centre will now be carried out with ease following much-needed renovation done at the facility on Tuesday, which was observed as Labour Day.

The centre, designed to assist young people with disabilities in and around Linstead, St Catherine, was operating in a dilapidated state and struggled to meet its mandate. It received assistance after a Jamaica Observer story in April.

On Tuesday, a visit to the centre by the Observer revealed labour being done by members of the Jamaica Defence Force, Dinthill Technical High School Alumni Association and other stakeholders to improve the facility.

The supervisor at the centre, Mary Cobourne, was unable to contain her joy.

Corporal Jason Shagouri of the Jamaica Defence Force carries out electrical work at the Enos Barrett Centre on Tuesday. (Photo: Garfield Robinson)

"This will make a big difference, we didn't have any running water in our bathroom and a lot of refurbishing is taking place such as lights being changed, water being restored in our tank," a pleased Cobourne said.

"The refurbishing will help a lot and the parents will appreciate it. As workers we will appreciate it too because we will feel a little bit more comfortable and the children will also enjoy the space," she said.

Some of the work done at the centre include painting, de-bushing, electrical repair which were carried out by the JDF, while water was also restored by the Jamaica Fire Brigade.

Additionally, the installation of fans was done by construction finishes store, Home and Things, last weekend.

Supervisor at the Enos Barrett Centre for Persons with Disabilities Mary Cobourne shows members of the Jamaica Defence Force sections of the facility in need of paint on Tuesday. (Photo: Garfield Robinson)

Cobourne said that since the Observer story she has been receiving an outpouring of support for the facility.

"People have been calling – a lady in America wants to give me some stuff for the centre, while a lawyer in Kingston will be bringing toys for the children. She is so excited and she told me she wants to be a friend of the centre, all because of what was written in the Observer," she said.

"It is a wow moment. It's the first so many people are helping. I can't even express my joy. I am more than elated," she added.

Major Georgette Grant-McDonald, director of the Caribbean Military Technical Training Institute, told the Observer that approximately 55 JDF soldiers came to offer support.

Sergeant Sackesha Davis of the Jamaica Defence Force paints the wall at the Enos Barrett Centre as part of a Labour Day project to renovate the facility.(Photo: Garfield Robinson)

She noted that the institute, which is a part of the Caribbean Military Academy, is engaging in youth and community engagement as part of the academy's four-year anniversary celebration.

"The Enos Barrett Centre project was chosen after we saw an article in the Observer and the needs of the centre matched the impact that we wanted to make in the community and persons particularly in Child Month, given that the centre is primarily for children," she said.

Meanwhile, Frank Sterling, who is a member of the Dinthill Technical High School Alumni Association, said while there was work carried out before the story such as the installation of a water tank, the facility was really in need of more assistance.

He said following the Labour Day project, other renovations will be done.

"This warms my heart. This is a very good thing from the JDF, Correctional Department, from citizens. After today, what is not done will continue. We will change out the windows and give the place a good facelift," he said.

The centre, which has been in operation for over 30 years, had a leaky roof, no running water in the bathroom and kitchen, and very little furniture and learning tools for children with disabilities.

BY BRITTNY HUTCHINSON Observer staff reporter hutchinsonb@jamaicaobserver.com

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