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WESTERN JAMAICA’S ONLY MIXED ABILITY SCHOOL TO DOUBLE STUDENT POPULATION WITH EXPANDED NEW FACILITIES Courtesy of JA$31M Grant from the Digicel Foundation
Institutions providing quality holistic education for Special Needs children are woefully lacking in Jamaica, particularly outside of Kingston. The NAZ Children’s Centre in Montego Bay is one school that has remained committed to bridging this gap. To that end, they have reached out to the Digicel Foundation to assist with building a new school. Resounding applause was therefore echoed around the room during NAZ’s Evening of Excellence after the Digicel Foundation announced a generous grant of JA$31M to construct a new facility that will see NAZ doubling its student body. The announcement was made on Tuesday May 22.
With classes ranging from kindergarten to grade six, the students enjoy small class settings and individualized attention from teachers and staff. The Centre’s physical facilities however cannot adequately accommodate its existing complement of 42 students. For several years NAZ facilitators have sought sponsorship and engaged in fund raising activities in their “Race to Finding a Place” better suited to their needs.
Once the Digicel Foundation-funded building is complete, NAZ will be able to increase its student population by 100%, enrolling approximately 84 students.
“I knocked on so many doors,” recounts NAZ Founder, Alixann Narcisse-Campbell, “the moment I walked into the Digicel Foundation board room I knew that this was it, we were finally going to have our dream come true”.
The grant by the Digicel Foundation is in keeping with its on-going commitment to providing first class facilities for persons with special needs in Jamaica. This includes the building of three special needs schools by 2014. “We believe that every child deserves the right to a good education,” says Samantha Chantrelle, Executive Director of the Digicel Foundation, “and special needs education is something that we are passionate about enhancing island wide. In investing in institutions like the NAZ Children’s Centre, we are hoping to make a meaningful difference.”
In addition to the Digicel Foundation, NAZ has received assistance from a host of other entities and persons including Rose Hall Developments and Master Spas, a hot tub company located in Indiana, US.
“With the Digicel Foundation, it’s not like they just hand us a cheque and leave, or chuck us a box of pencils, but they actually stay to help us draw the pictures, they want to be a part of these children’s lives,” comments Narcisse-Campbell. “The people at the Digicel Foundation are very hands on; if they know about a seminar in autism they call me and let me know. They have already become a huge part of our NAZ family.”
Since 2009 the Digicel Foundation has contributed over $93 million to the construction and maintenance of several special needs schools. These include Genesis Academy, Randolph Lopez School of Hope, STEP Centre and now NAZ Children’s Centre.
Digicel also sponsors the Special Olympics teams from all the countries in which it operates across the Caribbean.
About Digicel Foundation
The Digicel Foundation is the largest local private sector foundation in Jamaica. Since its inception in 2004 the foundation has invested over J$1.2 billion in communities in which Digicel operates island wide. The Digicel Foundation has been proactive in the areas of Education, Special Needs, and Community Empowerment.
The Digicel Foundation has:
- Invested over J$100 million in their Enrichment Initiative in partnership with the Ministry of Education to improve literacy at the primary school level island wide.
- Invested over J$38 million in resource rooms, including science and IT labs, in high schools island-wide.
- Committed to building three Special Needs schools, the first of which, the STEP Centre, broke ground in March 2012.
- Invested over J$60 million in Community Empowerment initiatives over the past four years, including $10 million annually and $15 million this year to support the National Best Communities Competition and Program.
For more information visit our website at www.digiceljamaicafoundation.org
About NAZ Children’s Centre
NAZ Children’s Centre, a mixed ability school, started as a homework centre in 2005 but due to the demand for its services, soon blossomed into a fully functional school. NAZ caters to average and above average learners, international students who speak English as a second language and students with learning and other challenges including Down syndrome, autism, learning delays and cerebral palsy. The only school of this nature in western Jamaica, NAZ adopts a holistic approach to maximizing the full developmental potential of its students.
At NAZ both teachers and parents play an equally important role in helping students to achieve their full potential. The school encourages children to express themselves creatively without fear of criticism. At NAZ there are no boundaries to a child’s development and teachers serve as facilitators in cultivating and honing the students’ skills. Activities geared towards instilling tolerance and teaching understanding are also aspects of the school that sets NAZ apart from the rest.
DIGICEL FOUNDATION , Thu, May 24th 2012