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Students with Learning Disabilities Receive Financial Boost

Published:Thursday | March 31, 2016 | 3:00 AMJodi-Ann Gilpin

Driven by her passion to see persons with learning disabilities acquire equal opportunities at the tertiary level, Samantha-Kaye Christie has taken the step to formulate a scholarship fund, which will cater to at least one student per year.

The 25 year-old, who is currently pursuing PhD studies in psychology at the Curtin University in Australia, said the initiative, 'Project Capability', was propelled by her own experience, having a brother who was diagnosed with dyslexia.

"I have seen my brother struggle in the classroom setting because he was dyslexic and needed remedial training. As such, throughout my school life, I have always worked hard to gain scholarships so that my parents could focus on my brother because his education was very expensive, and that was the only way out," she told The Gleaner.

"As I got older, especially since attending university, it has always concerned me that persons with learning issues don't have access to scholarships, or there aren't much avenues through which they can gain financial assistance, and I decided that through this project, I would step in and do my part," Christie said.

The project, which was launched in February, aims to create an annual scholarship to help people with learning difficulties and contribute it to the Montego Bay Community College. This will facilitate enrolment in various degrees, which requires the student to have between US$1,000 and $2,000 to successfully complete one year.

"I believe there is a sense of inclusion and opportunities that is needed, and a greater focus on persons with learning disabilities and problems. I am not bashing Jamaica's education system because I believe we have come very far, but there has to be a greater emphasis," she said.

"It's not a case where I'm going to discount the fact that they have a disability, because that's a part of them, but it's more focused on what they can do than what they cannot do. When I conceptualised the project, I decided that I would contact the principal and we exchanged a few words, and she welcomed the initiative." Christie said the principal noted that there are a number of students who come to the institution with various learning disabilities, and "I believe this will be a way to break the barriers for students with disabilities, without them feeling left out or sidelined".