09 May 2020

Community blackboards keep children learning

[SCROLL DOWN FOR VIDEO] School may be closed but I still leave the house at 6 am every day for work at Union Gardens Infant School. In the community where the school is situated I asked to take over a community blackboard and then painted another where I write each day’s schoolwork – on one for the four-year-olds, and the other for the five-year-…, Initiative embraced by community members, At the start, people were just curious. They were wondering: why is she painting the wall black? Some asked if I had permission. They didn’t see the strength of it but then they saw me coming back each day; and parents and children following after. From that point people started making wonderful, pleasant and positive comments. Other parents want…, COVID-19 calls for creative teaching, Honestly, if I could just put up an electronic billboard in Half-Way-Tree then I would. But we don’t have the budget, and neither can I fall over and play dead. I just had to do what I had to do. In my efforts to keep toiling on “I had to do with my might what my hands find to do.” Parents are happy because a lot of them couldn’t understand how to…, Children need hands-on learning, One thing I realised is that Jamaican children can’t just abruptly exit out of the traditional setting. They need that hands-on learning because they were used to the blackboard and the teacher as their physical guide hearing and seeing their instructions. So, twice weekly I host a Parent Centered Virtual Classroom (PCVC) on Zoom to teach the…, Parents embracing teaching role, Parents will just call or text me to reflect on how it’s working – was their child having challenges or did the child find this to be easy. When they get it right with their child you hear them bragging, that they are so happy to have found this ability within themselves. Now they are like “I did it!” or “Miss, I never know I could teach!” Union…, Solutions must fit children’s reality, Thinking about it, I was able to come up with this approach because I am not tech-savvy, and so I was more connected to the reality of the parents who lack internet access or digital skills. When the principal asked us for ideas on how to make education more accessible it was easier for me to think of practical ways to reach people like me! As…, What's UNICEF doing?, This post is part of a series looking at how COVID-19 is impacting children and families and also people who are addressing their challenges. Post your  #COVID19diaries  story to social media and tag @unicefjamaica to be featured! For more information about our response to COVID-19 assisting government and non-governmental organisations to protect…
25 July 2019

Life for Jamaican parents of children with disabilities

I would like to tell you a story about a little boy called DJ, which illustrates the challenges that parents of  children with disabilities  and the children themselves have. At the age of two years, DJ’s mother became concerned about his speech. They visited their local health centre where his mother was told “boys are slower than girls.” So…, Families and children frustrated by stigma, Next she tried to get him into school and when she went to the first school she was told that ‘they don’t take children  like  him’. This made her very frustrated because she had done so much in trying to get services for him. So she kept him at home until the age of six years, when she thought she would get him into a government-run primary…, Greater sensitivity needed among professionals , In this situation, however, the mother did so something else: she went to try to get DJ assessed. She went somewhere where the resources probably did not exist for the assessment of a young child, but that is not what she was told. She was told that he  could not  be assessed, which is not correct.  Then she went to school and there she felt the…, Support most critical in early years, It is so important that we identify what support children and their families require when they have children who have special needs. This is especially significant between ages zero to three years old, as DJ was when his mother first sought help, so that proper screening and support can be provided. This is a stage when the brain grows at a rate…
14 December 2018

Jamaica’s first inclusive infant school unites children and families

Parents of children with disabilities reassured, The moment I walked into Savanna-la-Mar Inclusive Infant Academy, I became fascinated by the way children of varying abilities were interacting with each other. There was no separation and the children were not treated differently – just happily interacting with each other. They each exuded so much energy!  My chat with parents was enlightening…, A loving learning environment for all children, Another mother expressed how the environment and equipment has made a remarkable difference for her child. She lovingly expressed how her child is learning and tries to teach her what she has learned at school.  Next, I spoke to one of several fathers. This dad explained that he chose to send his non-disabled daughter to the academy because he…, Super dad playing an active role, This father had taken it upon himself to ask, ‘What if my child had a disability, how would people treat my child?’ And so, he treats them the way he would want his child to be treated, and he passes this on to his daughter, who is this friendly ball of energy. We need to tell our children from an early age how to love each other, regardless of…, What's UNICEF doing?, Savanna-la-Mar Inclusive Infant Academy is a model mixed ability infant school and screening site, made possible by the Rockhouse Foundation with support from UNICEF Jamaica. UNICEF provided adaptive teaching and learning material for the school. In  partnership with the Digicel Foundation and the Jamaica Council for Persons with Disabilities (…
13 May 2018

All Jamaican mothers deserve baby-friendly hospitals

Not many people know this, but my degree from UTech was in Child and Adolescent Development. So I know about the benefits of breastfeeding and it’s always been something I wanted to do when I was ready to be a mother. So it’s doubly important for me as a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador that more mothers are able to breastfeed. We’re recommended as…, Breastfeeding at nine months, My experience makes it all the more important for me to support the  UNICEF Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative . BFHI is about certifying hospitals who have the necessary practices and standard to support mothers to breastfeed. Currently  we have just two baby-friendly hospitals in Jamaica : Alexandria Community Hospital in St Ann and Princess…, Supportive hospital staff, When I got Zyon I instantly fell in love when from I put him on my breast. I was looking straight into his eyes and he was just looking at me and looking for the breast. My son had no problems latching. I’ve always heard stories ‘Oh my baby didn’t latch and my nipples were hurting me.’ But for me it wasn’t like that.  But what happened was when I…, Need more trained nurses, And I said ‘Nurse there’s nothing coming!’ But she said ‘It will come, just keep doing it’ and she was really encouraging me to continue, and I remember turning to her. I said to her: ‘Do not under any circumstances give my child any formula! I do not want my child to have any formula because I want to breastfeed my baby.’ We need more nurses who…, Making the right decisions, When I had my child I was fortunate. There was a lactation specialist who came immediately to my room to talk to me about breastfeeding, about the advantages of the breast, engorged breasts, mastitis, latching and stuff like that.. That’s what we need with baby-friendly hospitals – having all that information in front of us, so that we can make…