Sat | Jul 31, 2021

Mom’s quest to help her children turns into a blessing for others

Published:Saturday | June 1, 2019 | 12:00 AMTamara Bailey/Gleaner Writer
Shellvie Smith-Lumsden (right) after being award with a grant for her business by Programme Manager – Political, of the Canadian High Commission, Kevin Gilhooly.
Shellvie Smith-Lumsden.

Manchester, Jamaica:

Her twin boys were just four years old when their teacher told her that she needed to get them enrolled in a school that focused on special education.

With little to no funds to have this done, an innovative, quick-thinking Shellivie Smith-Lumsden made the decision to teach her sons herself, having become certified in early-childhood development.

She said, “like any parent of young children on a low-income budget, I did not take this well at all. At the time, I was pregnant and was not able to afford assessment for my sons. In an effort to try to help my sons, I signed up to do a programme at HEART Trust in early-childhood development. During this period of studying, I recognised how I could use the knowledge to stimulate my sons’ interest and support their development. I began to implement, and so I set up a home-school setting for my sons in the passage of our half-sided house space.”

Surprised at how the application of what she had learnt made an extreme difference in her sons’ lives, she decided to help other mothers struggling in the area.

“I was so inspired by their enthusiasm to learn and progress that I decided that since I can do this for my sons, I will use the approach to help other parents having children that are considered to have learning challenges. We moved to a new house, and I decided to not only offer early-stimulation support, but day-care services for parents who had the need because they had to travel far to work,” she related.

She added, “When I started the business in 2006, it was the only one of its kind. The name of it was Kiddies Kingdom, but it was changed to Golden Kiddies Kingdom. We are presently rebranding with a model of inclusion and extending the age group to age 12 for children with learning disabilities, autism and similar pervasive developmental disorders and attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder.”

Turbulent times

Through the years, Smith-Lumsden faced turbulent times, such as the effects of a broken home and the responsibilities of a businesswoman and now single mother, but the experience was also a learning curve.

“Trying to mend my brokenness took its toll, and there was slow business development, especially with the rise of new competitors. Through the ordeal, the business took a nosedive from having 38 children enrolled to six. But I had to press on. I had to drop some of the offerings, such as long opening hours, because I had to go to college after work. Going back to school was important to me because I saw it as my only means of being a [role] model for my children,” she reca

They say everything lasts for a time, and in Smith- Lumsden’s case, her weeping was soon overcome with joy.

Following the receipt of her first degree in education, she got scholarships to acquire a certificate in identifying and managing children with special needs, as well as acquiring a diploma in entrepreneurship.

“Today, we have 25 children to whom we offer services in day care, early stimulation, and an afterschool homework programme where students are also engaged in remedial numeracy and literacy. We have received funding from the Digicel Foundation for our numeracy programme. We are one of the winners in the NHT (National Housing Trust) Social Venture Competition, where we received $1 million towards business development, and we have also received financial support from Young Women and Men of Purpose through their REAP Programme.” she said.

She further said, “As a result of my passion to support these children, I have converted my home into almost a total school space. We presently can accommodate 60 children. We are also in the process of procuring property for a new location, which is expected to be able to facilitate other activities such as agriculture, a model of smart farming, other sports activities and the arts.”

The 42-year-old said she has been a working mother since age 18 and has learnt to balance all her roles.

“Balancing business and family is a challenge, but I continue to try. I speak openly to my children about the business of the business, and they, in turn, offer understanding and support as it relates to their behaviour and transforming home into workspace, every time. It is not always easy, because it was and is a sacrifice for all, but I try to establish rewarding moments.” she explained.

The working mother said she lives for moments of solitude when she can carefully appreciate the finer things in life.

“I appreciate this because the demands often make no room for exclusive planning. These days, though, I try to be a little more intentional in taking break time, since my children are older now, and I have learnt to separate the business from myself. I find relaxation in engaging in different community activities within the wider community. I am presently the president of the Longville Park Parent Support Group, and it brings me great joy to help people find a way,” she said.

She also said that through her series of challenges, she found that you do not always have to have the answers, but you must be willing to trust the process.