Loud cheers and frolicking from children at the Early Stimulation Centre of Excellence in Portland last Tuesday were evidence of enjoyment, as they celebrated a Christmas treat with their parents.
The traditional event, which returned after a two-year break due to the COVID-19 pandemic, saw Ministry of Labour and Social Security, Portland Returning Residents Association, and the Digicel Foundation sponsoring the treat with food, music and rides.
“This treat is good, I am glad that we get presents. I am happy that we also get to spend time with our family,” said nine-year-old Dominique White, while Nahjalia Vaughan, aged nine, gladly pointed to the bounce-a-bout and Christmas tree, when asked if she was enjoying the treat.
Director of the Early Stimulation Programme (ESP) Antonica Gunter-Gayle told the Jamaica Observer that children with disabilities at several ESP centres were treated over the Christmas period.
“For the treat, we served over 100 children today, and we served 97 children in St James on Monday and over 400 will be treated on Friday in Kingston. Now that we are outside after battling with COVID-19, we are having a good time,” said Gunter- Gayle.
The parents present at the treat were also eager to share their joy.
Deon Evans, who heads the Parent-Teacher Association at the school, noted that the treat provided the opportunity for bonding among parents and children.
“This is the perfect time to get acquainted and reacquainted with parents and children. I know that next year it will be better, the organisers and our hard-working supervisor and our director and all the other teachers here have been really working hard with our children and they did a great job with the treat,” she said.
“The treat is not what it used to be, but we are here to show the young parents coming in that we are a family and we look out for each other,” added Evans.
Another parent, Stephani Minott, agreed.
“The children can play a bit. My daughter loves it. It is really a good way to socialise. Sometimes you have a child and you don’t know who else has a child like yours and you can talk to them about challenges and your experiences,” she said.
While Janice Grant said she really appreciates the effort from the school to treat the children.
“It is great because normally you don’t have many people looking out for them.
“My son has been enjoying all the rides here. It is good to know that the school could do something for them,” she said.
Orean Lindo added, “I think everything was well done for the children. It is a good thing. A lot of parents don’t have the money or the time to bring them out.”