Fri | Dec 8, 2023

Genesis Academy toasts 20 years catering to special needs students

Published:Saturday | September 16, 2023 | 12:08 AMAndre Williams/Staff Reporter

Several special-needs students at the Genesis Academy in Kingston successfully completed City & Guilds Stage One and two courses in June, earning from merits to distinction.

The revelation was among the toasts during reflection on Friday as the institution celebrated its 20th anniversary.

Genesis Academy, which started in a living room back in 2003, now boasts its own campus at 38 South Camp Road.

Pauline Beaumont, founder and board chairman, told The Gleaner that she started classes with five children and the school now caters to 90 students – 22 girls and 68 boys.

They are all at different ability levels.

“They come in at age 11 and stay here until 21,” Beaumont said.

Beaumont said it was not an easy road, as they had to navigate many challenges while hopping locations across the Corporate Area.

The school moved from Fort George Road in Stony Hill to two locations on Windsor Avenue, then to Barbican Road, and finally to South Camp Road.

“There were times we thought the school was going to close, and, each time we came to that place, God delivered,” Beaumont said.

The founder said she was relentless in her efforts to secure a quarter million dollar loan, which turned into a six million dollar grant, and the institution has been changing lives since.

She noted that, like many other learning institutions, Genesis Academy did not escape the wrath of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We had the pandemic and had to go online. It was not fun and that, for us, was a downtime … ,” she recalled.

Dane ‘Fudgie’ Brown, who has had coaching aspirations despite his disability, is among the achievers at Genesis Academy.

He obtained a merit for his efforts.

Brown, 20, is a resident of Rae Town and suffers from a bone disease called osteogenesis imperfecta.

His bones break easily, often from mild trauma or with no apparent cause.

Brown has one more year at Genesis Academy.

Beaumont said she still keeps in touch with some of her past students, noting that the children who register at the institution never leave the same way they came.

“Many of the persons that came here, and who society believes could not get a job, are working and are doing well,” the founder said.