“Inclusion” is a word with a simple meaning: not leaving out any man, woman or child, whatever their situation. It’s really important when we are talking about people with special needs. So, as the hurricane season approaches, this is a great partnership among the Nathan Ebanks Foundation, the Adaptation Programme and Financing Mechanism (AP&FM) related to climate change, and other entities involved in disaster preparedness and family support.
Christine Staple-Ebanks is always focused on the family and it is her own family situation that prompted her to create this foundation – primarily for the purpose of supporting children with special needs through sharing a wide range of information that can help them. Accessing such information is particularly difficult outside of Kingston. Here are more details about the project, below.
Nathan Ebanks Foundation Family expo expands to rural Jamaica
Kingston, Jamaica, April 19, 2019. Three years after its inception the Nathan Ebanks Foundation (NEF) will be expanding its reach and hosting its Family Expo and Special Needs Resource Fairs in Kingston and St. Elizabeth.
The event has been steadily attracting partners and for 2019 is partnering with the Adaptation Programme and Financing Mechanism (AP&FM), Supreme Ventures Limited as well as affiliates from the Child Protection and Family Services Agency, Jamaica Council for Persons with Disabilities, National Parenting Support Commission, Jamaica Fire Brigade, National Child Month Committee, and the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM).
“We are happy to be taking the event out of Kingston and to another area as we realize that sometimes persons with disabilities and their families are not able to access this kind of information as easily outside of the urban areas,” said Christine Staple-Ebanks, Founder and President of the NEF.
“Through the Family Expo and Special Needs Resource Fair, we continue to give children with disabilities and their families a platform to reach a broader audience and let their voices be heard, and to connect them to resources and support in the community,” she said.
At the launch on April 10, Ebanks and her team announced the dates of the two events – the Kingston Family Fair and Expo to be held at the Hope Gardens on May 25, 2019, and the newly added second Fair and Expo will be on July 4, 2019 at the Alpart Sports Club, Nain, St. Elizabeth.
These events are designed to support NEF’s quest for the inclusion, participation, and empowerment of children with disabilities and special needs.
“Our vision of the future is to see all children of varied abilities and talent, grow, thrive, learn and uncover their own unique gifts in a way that respects their diversity and celebrate potential,” said Staple-Ebanks.
At the same time partners such as the AP&FM supported the expansion and welcomed the opportunity to share information on climate change adaptation with persons with disabilities.
“We are aware that it can be a challenge for persons with disabilities and their families to access information and resources needed to best plan for themselves and their loved ones. And so we were very happy to get the opportunity to share information on climate change and how we can reduce the vulnerability of persons with disabilities,” said Dr. Winsome Townsend, Project Manager for the AP&FM.
There are an estimated 200,000 children living with disabilities in Jamaica and inadequate systems in place to effectively include them into society. Since 2007, the Nathan Ebanks Foundation has been on a mission to advocate for, and strengthen capacities to promote the best interests, rights, safety, education and inclusion of children with disabilities and special education needs in Jamaica. The Fairs will feature an emergency Preparedness Resource Booth, academic screening, mental Health Checks, Health Checks, Dental Services, Vision Screening, Developmental Screening, Information Booths, Adaptive Sports Games and Demonstration, Disability/Special Needs Resource Booths as well as fun games and a gospel concert.
Staple-Ebanks started the NEF in honor of her son Nathan who was diagnosed with cerebral palsy in 2005 at the age of nine months, the foundation was set up to serve children with disabilities through the:
· Training of policy-makers, teachers, parents, and administrators
· Advocating at the highest level of the society – government, media, civil society, and private sector so as to broaden the base of support for children living with disabilities.
· Partnering with individuals, key local institutions such as the Ministry of Education, Jamaica Council for Persons with Disabilities and Child Development Agency (CDA), and international organisations such as Full Circle Systems Inc., Multiagency International Training and Support (MAITS UK), Rangoonwala Foundation (UK) Organization of American States (OAS)/Organization of Women of the Americas (OWA) to deliver developmental programmes to the children and families.
· Researching key sector issues to inform policymakers and local practitioners.
· Providing resource and support for the nation’s educational institutions and agencies creating and integrating study plans for children with disabilities.
So far, achievements include over 5,000 persons reaching Awareness & Capacity-building, 2 nationwide Disability Awareness Public Education Campaigns, Multiple Advocacy Platforms and have had over 20,000 books donated to 50 schools and institutions islandwide through a partnership with St. Bernard’s School in New York, USA.
The Nathan Ebanks Foundation Family Fair and Expo is also supported by its sponsors Party Plus, Chrismixradio.com, e-learningja, Lasco Financial Services Limited, JISCO, and Alpart Jamaica.