IM this article to a friend!

June 8, 2004

Making its voice heard

From: Jamaica Observer, Jamaica - Jun 8, 2004


HORACE HINES, Observer staff reporter
Tuesday, June 08, 2004

Nestled in the hills of Knockpatrick, just outside Mandeville, Manchester, sits the Caribbean Christian Centre's (CCC) School for the Deaf. This learning institution was established in 1958 and has become a tower of strength for the hearing-impaired, turning out a number of skilled deaf individuals for the past four decades.

The school was registered as an independent school with the ministry of education and is financed by child sponsorship and donations from abroad and locally.

Nearly all of the students attending CCC board on the campus. The principal Lola Wright who has been teaching at the school for the past 26 years, told TeenAge that the academic staff has a number of hearing-impaired personnel.

"We have deaf persons working in all sectors of the school as teachers, assistant librarians, housekeeper teacher, teacher aides among others," Wright added in her interview with TeenAge.

The school's curriculum consists mainly of vocational training but they offer CXC/Heart subjects also. They follow a similar syllabus as that used by the Heart Academies across the island.

The school, Wright said, is also very involved in extra-curricular activities such as 4-H, inter-school Christian fellowship, dance, drama, sign language choir (Hands In Praise), independent sports and speech competitions for the hearing-impaired.

Wright had high praises for her dedicated staff. She disclosed that some were employed to the school for the past 15 to 20 years.

Many of the staff members are graduates of the institution. Wright says many parents, after the graduation of their children request employment at the school which unfortunately cannot satisfy all these demands.

She thinks that the parents of deaf students tend to be at a loss as to what to do when they discover that their children are deaf, and welcome the opportunity for their children to have an education. She pointed out, however, that it is very important for parents to communicate with their children. The school, she explained, has made provision for them to learn sign language.

"We have had parents' days and regional parent teachers' meetings - if Mohammed does not come to the mountain then we have to take the mountain to Mohammed," said the smiling principal.

According to Wright, an incredible number of hearing people are fascinated with signing and want to learn the language, but she noted that it was not enough for people to be fascinated with the language. She would love to see more people becoming involved with the hearing-impaired.

"I would love to see more people being willing to employ deaf persons because they receive skills training, but in many cases are unable to access jobs because of their handicap," she pointed out.

Wright claimed they are challenged to maintain the school's programme but that they have launched fund-raising drives and have increased promotional opportunities in Grand Cayman, the United States and the United Kingdom to fund the school's programme.

The school's farm supplies food for their consumption. They slaughter their cattle for beef, derive eggs and chicken from their poultry farm, and also provide ground provisions for the school's population. They also grow coffee which is sold on the market.

Despite all the challenges, Wright believes that God will provide for all the needs of the school.

"The challenges will always be there, but we are a faith ministry and depend on the Lord to supply our needs," she said.

She wishes that the community would show greater involvement, but believes that this will be realised only when those who are involved play a greater role in developing awareness.

Copyright© 2000-2001 Jamaica Observer. All Rights Reserved.