The Nathan Ebanks Foundation (NEF), a local non-profit organization that supports persons with disabilities, recently hosted its 6th Annual Special Needs Conference Expo in bid to educate teachers, medical professionals and caregivers about programmes, products and services designed to improve the lives of physically and mentally challenged individuals. The four day forum, which was hosted under the theme “Building the Road to Independence for Children and the Elderly with Disabilities and Special Needs in Jamaica”, ran from Wednesday, April 11 to Saturday, April 14, at the Jamaica Conference Centre in Downtown Kingston.
“Movement affords us independence, it allows us perform basic functions and carry out our everyday routines,” said Christine Staple-Ebanks, NEF Founder. “Many of us could scarcely imagine our lives without movement and yet a sizeable part of our population is faced with limited mobility and its associative obstacles on a daily basis,” she explained.
In the mid-1980s, Linda Bidabe, a Special Education Teacher based in California, began to strategically use movement with her special needs students. Due to the overwhelming success of the curriculum, Mobility Opportunities Via Education/ Experience, popularly known as MOVE, was officially established as an educational and therapy guide for the classroom. MOVE helps children and adults with severe disabilities to acquire greater independence by learning to sit, stand, walk and transition. During the NEF Conference, MOVE presenters, Beverley Young and Julie Sues-Delaney, offered participants Basic Provider Training focusing on the six steps of the MOVE Program. The seminar taught teachers how to test, evaluate and design individualised plans for developing mobility skills and how to use common furniture as instructional tools to improve movement.
"As a psychologist specializing in child and adolescent issues, I am always seeking opportunities to strengthen my skill set, knowledge base and offerings,” said Doneisha Burke, Clinical Psychologist (M.Sc.) & Lecturer at the University of the West Indies (UWI). “The MOVE Basic Provider for Children Workshop provided just that. It has enabled me to learn how to assess and work with disabled children thereby empowering them to not just learn about and adapt to their environment, but also to be involved in the happenings around them,” she explained.
The Special Needs Expo component of the event, the first of its kind to be held in Jamaica, included more than 20 exhibitors and provided visitors with great informational sessions and live demonstrations. Some of topics discussed during the workshops included drug awareness, services for persons with disabilities, dealing with hearing loss in children, and oral care options for individuals with special needs. On Saturday, April 14, a Special Continuing Medical Education (SME) Session was hosted for paediatricians and other health care professionals in order to present alternative treatment programmes, such as physical, chiropractic, and speech and language options, for individuals with neurological disorders.
The NEF Conference Expo was made possible, in large part, due to strong sponsorship support from both corporate and public entities including the Jamaica Council for Persons with Disabilities, RBC Royal Bank, Supreme Ventures, CB Chicken, Development Options Ltd., COK Sodality Co-operative Credit Union, as well as media partners Power 106 FM and Music 99 FM.
"It was our privilege to host a forum where persons could come together and gain access to life-enhancing technologies, education and resources,” said Mrs Staple-Ebanks. “Through this event, we have sought to offer amazing tools, tips and strategies for improving the overall quality of life for persons with disabilities in Jamaica,” she shared.
ABOUT THE NATHAN EBANKS FOUNDATION
The Nathan Ebanks Foundation (NEF) is a non-profit organization established by Christine Staple-Ebanks, the parent of a disabled child, as a response mechanism to build a bridge to access information, services and other support that would empower parents to help their children thrive, enabling them to participate in life. NEF has been positively impacting the special needs community in Jamaica since 2007.
Training is one of the service options that NEF has chosen to create access for teachers, parents and other professionals to learn and gain deeper knowledge, skills and practice in supporting children with disabilities and special/exceptional needs in classroom and community. To date, the Nathan Ebanks Foundation has provided training to more than two dozen institutions, and more than two thousand (2,000) teachers, parents and other professionals from early childhood, primary, preparatory, secondary and vocational institutions island wide.
For more information about the Nathan Ebanks Foundation, please call 756-3685 or visit http://www.nathanshelpinghandsfoundation.org
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