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Special needs institutions receive boost from Digicel Foundation 5K Run/Walk

Published:Thursday | December 17, 2015 | 12:00 AM
The Digicel Foundation recently donated proceeds from the Digicel Imagine 5K Run for Special Needs at a handover ceremony held at the Alhambra Inn. Seen here are (from left) Jean Lowrie-Chin, Digicel Foundation chairman; Andrea Hardware, Digicel Foundation board director; and Gabriel Heron, Special Olympics Jamaica aquatic director.

Twelve special-needs institutions and schools will be able to do more good in their communities from their share of $8.4 million in proceeds from the 2015 Digicel Foundation 5K Run/Walk.

The 12 organisations receiving funds this year are Jamaica Autism Support Association, Jamaica Association on Intellectual Disabilities (JAID), Jamaica Association for the Deaf, Jamaica Society for the Blind, Jamaica Down's Syndrome Foundation, Special Olympics Jamaica, STEP Centre, Mustard Seed Communities - Jacob's Ladder, Early Stimulation Plus, NAZ Children's Centre, Genesis Academy, and Liberty Academy.

The Jamaica Society for the Blind intends to use its share of the proceeds to increase the number of outreach programmes and set up its own vision-care centre.

"We're hoping to go out into our schools and conduct even more vision screenings this year. Because, according to the census, there are more than 700 blind students, but only a little over 100 are currently enrolled at the Jamaica School for the Blind and other educational institutions where they are catered for," said Lola Marson, executive director of the Society.

Marson added: "We will also be investing funds to have trained specialists in our vision centre, which we have been steadily working on."

The institution joins the other recipients in their intentions to expand programmes impacting members of the special-needs community.

One such institution, JAID, has used its donations over the years to provide welfare and transport services for learners. This year, funds will go towards expanding its social-enterprise and job-creation programme dubbed 'CHUPSE'.

"JAID is absolutely thrilled with the support of Digicel Foundation," said Principal Christine Rodriguez.

She added: "At recent events we've attended such as National Bakery's A Jamaican Made Christmas and Devon House Market on the Lawn with Digicel Foundation, we realised that patrons are impressed with the uniqueness and quality of the products. So, we hope to expand and employ 20 individuals over the next year."


Speaking at the handover ceremony in Kingston recently, Digicel Foundation Chairman Jean Lowrie-Chin applauded the organisations for their enterprising spirit and resilience, while affirming the organisation's commitment to the special-needs community.

Lowrie-Chin said: "We are particularly proud of the social-enterprise work being done by some of our partners to facilitate their sustainability."

She added: "Our patron, Denis O'Brien, founder and chairman of Digicel, has been an ardent supporter of special-needs organisations. He has given us a mandate to assist in promoting the sustainable development of our communities by partnering with dedicated Jamaicans such as yourselves."

In October 2015, the Digicel Foundation hosted the annual 5K Imagine Run/Walk, which saw the involvement of more than 10,000 participants - the largest turnout to date for the annual event.