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July 7, 2014
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Digicel aids construction of special-needs children's centre

Scores of persons gathered in Rose Hall, Montego Bay recently for the opening of a state-of-the-art building for the NAZ Children's Centre.

The new facility was constructed with a $36.7 million grant from the Digicel Foundation, one of Jamaica's leading supporters of the special-needs sector. Additional contributions of cash and kind came from Rosehall Developments, Master Spas, Cascade Group, Spanish-Jamaican Foundation, Coldmax Mart Ltd. and Maffessanti Architecture and Urban Design.

The NAZ Children's Centre is a multifaceted educational institution for average and above-average learners and children with special needs-each of whom gets specialised attention. It provides quality education for students with learning and other challenges such Down's Syndrome, autism, learning delays and cerebral palsy who constitute about half the student cohort.

The new facility will not only allow NAZ to double its special needs cohort to 100 but also offer a Leadership Education and Achievement Programme for special-needs children over 13 years to learn a skill in craftwork, landscaping and cosmetology.

It offers more space and allows teachers additional room to be more creative. The new school boasts a multifunctional library and computer room, five classrooms-four of which are used for inclusive learning and one for customised instruction for children with severe mental or physical impairment. The environmentally friendly new school building was designed to allow for maximum air flow throughout classrooms, eliminating the need for air conditioning units, thereby reducing energy and operational costs.

Samantha Chantrelle, chief executive officer at the Foundation told the gathering that the Foundation is committed to improving the lives of persons with special needs and intends to create ten centres of excellence across the island by 2016.

According to the Founder and Principal of NAZ, Alixann Narcisse-Campbell: "The students and staff are very excited and happy for this new building; we can now reach many more children who desperately need this kind of specialised support."

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