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Easy Breezy Lapathon to raise funds for intellectual disability

Published:Tuesday | July 25, 2017 | 12:00 AM
Charmaine Edmondson Nelson (second left) is surrounded by family and friends following last year’s lapathon.At left is her son Dominic Nelson and her daughter Dr Danielle Nelson is third left. Also pictured are Shinichi Sakai (second right), senior Japanese volunteer for the Jamaica Association on Intellectual Disabilities; Shazan Andrade (third right) and William Lewis (right), past students at the Randolph Lopez School of Hope.
Participants in last year's 'Easy Breezy Lapathon'.
Dr Danielle Nelson (seated) engages a participant in the Easy Breezy Lapathon last year.

Born out of her own challenges of finding appropriate therapeutic solutions for her child who has an intellectual disability, Charmaine Edmondson Nelson, through her foundation, 'Emerging Minds', will be hosting their third annual lapathon to raise funds to pursue her dream of assisting persons with treatment, regardless of their economic status.

Nelson noted that the event, which will be held at the Emancipation Park in New Kingston this Saturday, will create an avenue to bring more awareness to issues of disabilities in the country.

"It (treatment) has taken me to the United States and we have seen interventions that are effective and have the potential to assist. However, they are not available here. Of course, many of these interventions are quite costly in time and money. Having that experience and seeing what is there and not here, it has been a dream of mine to have more persons benefit in the ways I have benefited," she said.

"What we have experienced in the world of disability is that physical disabilities are more recognisable and, therefore, there is a lot more attention in that regard. However, an intellectual disability is almost hidden and the services available - access to school, even the policy dialogue - are more geared towards physical disability. There are a few services in the private sector, such as speech and occupational therapists, but those services are often not readily accessible to the ordinary person."

She said another major goal for the foundation is to develop partnerships which will facili-tate training for professionals and for parents to be exposed to new ways of treating their children. Nelson also pointed to the significance of treatment being brain-focused.

"The tenets of these interventions that are found to be effective are that they focus on improving brain connectivity and are based on the premise of neuroplasticity. What we currently have in Jamaica, and not just Jamaica but all over the world, is that we tend to treat the symptoms. So the child is not walking, so we treat walking. But it is critical that treatment is focused at the deeper levels of the problem in the brain, using different sensory input systems to target these issues in an intensive way," Nelson told The Gleaner.

"Some of the systems targeted in my son's programmes, for example, included the auditory, visual, proprioceptic and tactile senses."