Two mothers of boys with disabilities opened The School for Therapy, Education and Parenting of Children with Multiple Disabilities (STEP Centre) in February 1992.
Cameron Chong and Jordan Zaidie were the first students at the STEP Centre, pioneers of a school that would go on to bring immeasurable help to many.
Other children soon joined the small group who worked together in the hall of the Church of St Margaret in Liguanea. A major milestone was achieved in 2000 when the school was recognised as an independent school by the Ministry of Education and received its first subvention from the Government. Parental management has been maintained, ensuring a standard of excellence.
The STEP Centre's structured school day incorporates a broad and balanced curriculum which seeks to meet the individual needs of each child through an interdisciplinary approach. It includes:
Physical development - working with gross and fine motor skills. Activities to maintain flexibility, encourage good posture and facilitate the development of balance, allow the child to develop his/her optimal repertoire of movement skills.
Cognitive development - using thinking skills. This underlies all areas of the curriculum. Pupils have an individual education plan and work on a differentiated primary-school curriculum.
Communication - developing accessible ways of communicating. These include verbal (speech) and non-verbal (gesture, sign language, pictures and symbols).
Sensory - activities to encourage more efficient interpretation and organisation of sensory information resulting in appropriate responses.
Oral motor therapy - eating and pre-verbal skills.
Social interaction - experiencing play and developing social relationships.
Self-help skills - achieving independence where possible.
Through continuous assessment, the STEP Centre develops an individual education programme for each child. Every child works towards individually set goals based on his/her needs and level of ability.
Five years ago, the school started selling Christmas cards to help offset an operating deficit and to ensure financial viability.
Some of Jamaica's well-known artists have supported the centre by contributing the use of their artwork for the cards.
Info taken from www.thestepcentre.com