Monday, October 10, 2016

Special Needs inspiration - as we gear for #DigiNight5K

Dane Richardson and yours truly of Digicel Jamaica Foundation with successful Down Syndrome students. Drummer Zane Ramikie is at right.
Trevor Ramikie and his son Zane are a dynamic drumming duo.  Trevor watched admiringly as his teenage son matched his quick rhythm at the Tropical Elegance location on Cunningham Avenue recently.  Trevor had every reason to be proud.  His son Zane was born with Down Syndrome and with the love and care of his family, father Trevor and mother Patricia Clarke-Ramikie, Zane is a happy and intelligent young man.

We were in the fine company of a group of dedicated volunteers who support the Jamaica Down Syndrome Foundation.  The Founding Director and Chairman, Dr. Charmaine Scott has built an organization which is the reason that the parents of Down Syndrome children and their children can become active and productive individuals.  We certainly saw this in the lively presentations of little Andrea Chambers and Dimirio Humphrey.  The Chairman of their Fund Raising Committee, Ms. Ivy Scott, has been relentless in obtaining funding so that parents of Down Syndrome children can travel and meet and share information on social media.

Jamaica Down Syndrome Foundation and friends. Patron Hon. Marigold Harding is 2nd left and Founder-Chairman Dr Charmaine Scott 2nd right.
Patron Marigold Harding confessed that she has a special love for the Jamaica Down Syndrome Foundation, because of the dedication that fuels their work.  Board directors are Dr Charmaine Scott (Founder), Judith Richards and Christopher Lai, while Honorary Directors are Charles Jones, Dennise Williams, Pauline Lovindeer and Jennifer Anglin.

Dennise Williams, the popular Financial and Business journalist recalled that the Down Syndrome Foundation represented hope for her when four years ago, her infant son Bertram was diagnosed with the condition.  She said that as soon as she learned this, she “went on Google” and there discovered the Down Syndrome Facebook page with a phone number.  One of the most important things when faced with such a situation, she noted, is awareness. Through the Foundation she became connected with other parents benefiting from the counselling and mentoring offered.  The Foundation now has 500 members, 85% of whom do not live in the corporate area. 

The Digicel Imagine Night 5K Walk/Run to be held on Saturday 22 October will support nine special needs organizations including the Jamaica Down Syndrome Foundation.  One of the parents pointed out that to properly support the education of a Down Syndrome child, it requires 40 hours per week of therapy – speech, occupational therapy etc, which cost $1.4M per annum and she was very grateful to the Digicel Foundation.

The Digicel Foundation will this year complete ten (10) Special Needs Centres throughout Jamaica promoting accessibility to well-equipped educational facilities.  This emphasis on Special Needs has heralded a new level of awareness and respect for persons who through no fault of their own, have huge challenges which should attract our willing support.  It is encouraging that since our Special Olympians led by the indefatigable Lorna Bell, brought so much glory to Jamaica, our special needs communities are getting well-deserved headlines.

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