‘Don’t Dis my Ability' - Salute to persons with intellectual disability
Yes, peeps, we're in the school graduation season. Children are graduating from high school, primary school, prep school, basic school, and kindergarten. I kid you not! Look here nuh, I saw a little girl just yesterday looking like about five or six years old, dressed in a beautiful wedding-looking white dress, heading to her 'graduation' ceremony.
So all baby a graduate from daycare!
Talking about graduation, I had a heart-warming and stirring experience last week that I just have to share. I had the pleasure and privilege of being guest speaker at the graduation exhibition of works by students of the Randolph Lopez School of Hope [Skills Department].
Friends, I was totally blown away by the experience. I was moved to tears by the amazing works created by the students and I was inspired by the positive and indomitable spirit that they displayed.
The exhibition was aptly titled 'Don't Dis My Ability' and featured a variety of exceptional works created by the students, some with mild and some with extreme forms of intellectual disabilities.
The high-quality works ranged from painting, drawings, screen-printing, woodwork and jewel-craft, and was a striking demonstration of why we should celebrate people's gifts and abilities and focus less attention on their peculiar challenges and disabilities.
The school, formerly known as the School of Hope and the School for the Mentally Handicapped, was established in 1956 by Randolph Lopez - a parent who pioneered the provision of services for children with intellectual disabilities and founded the Jamaican Association for Mentally Handicapped Children in 1955.
It is currently the largest and oldest school serving children with intellectual disabilities in Jamaica and the English-speaking Caribbean.
The dynamic and dedicated staff at the school are doing are excellent moulding and motivating the students to be the best that they can be, especially in a Jamaica where people tend to be generally callous, unkind and impatient with those who have special needs. And the students are an absolute joy!
I was particularly struck by Andre Francis and Chezell Morgan. Andre is an outstanding artist, and I know that his brilliant work will take him places. Chezell, who creates beautiful jewellery and delivered an excellent vote of thanks at the event, is a spirited young lady who, despite her challenges, has ambitions of being a nurse.
Andre and Chezell exemplify the words of Proverbs 18 verse 16 that says a man's gifts make room for him. I have no doubt that they are destined for greatness.