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Special needs institutions get a helping hand through Digicel Foundation 5K Run/Walk

Published:Tuesday | April 28, 2015 | 12:00 AM

Twelve special-needs institutions and schools are expected to offer more to students and parents with proceeds received from the 2014 Digicel Foundation 5K Run/Walk.

Proceeds of J$6.9 million were recently distributed to partners in the special-needs sector following the annual fundraiser.

For a number of partners who were recipients of the previous 5K run/walk, these proceeds have helped them to not only assist students but also to reach new development goals.

Globally, children with mild to moderate hearing losses, on average, achieve one to four grade levels lower than their peers with normal hearing. With this in mind, the Jamaica Association for the Deaf, a previous and current recipient, has used the proceeds to provide partial sponsorship to 35 students.

"The importance of a solid education for deaf or hard-of-hearing students, if they are to have equal access and opportunities in the workplace, is of underlined importance," said Denise Reid, public relations and fundraising officer, Jamaica Association for the Deaf. "Without the contribution of the Digicel Foundation, we would be unable to provide our students with the support they so desperately need."

The Down's Syndrome Foundation has a number of activities planned from the recently received proceeds that will benefit the more 500 families that are members.

"The Down's Syndrome Foundation is extremely appreciative of the Digicel Foundation's contribution; we couldn't do what we do at this point without Digicel," said Annette Clayton Baker, board member at the Down's Syndrome Foundation.

"Last year, the proceeds were used to assist children in receiving early stimulation, which makes all the difference. It was also used to assist parents in getting specialised care as far as St James, which is critical," Clayton Baker added.

Purchased equipment

Genesis Academy has used previous funds to better equip the institution, purchasing laptops and tablets for use in the classroom to assist with communications skills for non-verbal children. This year, Genesis principal Donna Lowe says the school has big plans.

"We're hoping to invest proceeds in our skills training programme which includes food preparation, data operations and we will be starting cosmetology," Lowe said.

"We will be investing funds

in a marketing programme so

as to market our products so

that we can better sustain

ourselves. Finally, we will be retrofitting our time-out room, which is used for behaviour management."

In October 2014, the Digicel Foundation hosted the annual 5K Run/Walk, which saw the involvement of 8,052 participants. The 12 special-needs schools and institutions recipients are: Jamaica Autism Support Association, Jamaica Association on Intellectual Disabilities, Jamaica Association for the Deaf, Montego Bay Autism Centre, Jamaica Society for the Blind, Jamaica Down's Syndrome Foundation, Special Olympics Jamaica, STEP Centre, Mustard Seed Communities - Jacob's Ladder, Early Stimulation Plus, Genesis Academy and Liberty Academy.