The Maia Chung Autism and Disabilities Foundation launches scholarship

Senator Norman Grant

Patron of The Maia Chung Autism and Disabilities Foundation Government Senator Norman Grant OD – file photo Gleaner

Jamaican Senator Norman Grant, who is patron of The Maia Chung Autism and Disabilities Foundation (MCADF), has committed to enhancing the Foundation’s latest tool designed to help youths with Autism in Jamaica, receive education, therapies and any other school training needs they may have.

Senator Grant, who was at the launch of the scholarship in August 2015, will provide an annual teachers’ incentive of 10 thousand dollars to the teacher; who identifies each year’s recipient of the scholarship.

Designed by head of The Maia Chung Autism and Disabilities Foundation, Maia Chung; the awards will be made nationally to any student in the formal school system that has Autism. This student will be identified by his or her teacher as Autistic and in need.

maia chung

Maia Chung and New York State Senator Kevin Parker who will be helping Miss Chung incorporate the Foundation in the USA to tap into Diaspora fundraising.

According to the Founder of MCADF, “we are hoping for several results: getting teachers who are on the front line involved with the issue of identifying students with Autism”.

She added the Ministry of Education is partnering with us by using its national network of communication with Jamaican teachers to advertise the scholarship. This augments our reach as non-governmental and non profit, that has limited resources; in key areas where there needs to be heightened awareness about Autism.

She said further,” it also helps us to debunk the myth that Autistic youth are uneducable and untrainable. The development of scholarship and not a grant was deliberate. This is a part of our myth busting activity, as you have Autism affected youth at University, my son, Quinn Garren James Smith  is diagnosed as severely Autistic is sitting CXCs . This exam which he correctly qualifies for are his precursor exams to attend college. This is wonderful. Autism affected youth go to school at all levels and are scholars.”

maia chungFounder of the Autism and Disabilities Foundation Maia Chung said the initiative aims to heighten the awareness of the disorder and promote positive actions for the growth and development of children with autism.

quote marksWe believe that joining with the Ministry of Education will allow us to get educators on board. This will not only help people who need the intervention, but we will have the assistance of the educators themselves, who will act as a tier of identifiers and help in making up the network of  people who will now be vigilant in  spreading awareness about Autism,” she explained.

The first award will be announced at the end of September 2015. With the funds beings disbursed in October 2015.

The Maia Chung Autism and Disabilities Foundation’s Education and Training Scholarship which was launched by Jamaica’s education Minister Ronald Thwaites has the following criteria:

  • Open to all Autism diagnosed children teens and young adults; in the categories of basic, primary secondary tertiary or skills training facilities.
  • To be issued annually in October of each year
  • Endorsed and publicised by the Ministry of Education
  • To be advertised to all legitimately registered training and education institutions through the Ministry’s consistent teacher bulletins
  • Educators will be asked to recommend eligible candidates by June each year and the announcement of the recipient will be made in September with funds disbursed in October
  • There will be one recipient per year
  • The applicants who will receive preference will be families existing below or just above the poverty line
  • The scholarship is to be used for any legitimate therapy or education activity, training, or purchase of supplies… related to the awardees’ furtherance of their particular therapy, education and training to ensure they have an equal quality of life as any neurotypical citizen

At the August launch of the scholarship which took place at the Ministry of Education head office in Kingston Jamaica, the Minister indicated that adding the information about the scholarship to its regular national updates to educators; the Jamaican government said it has taken steps to facilitate the diagnosis of autism at the early childhood level, and to apply the appropriate responses.

“We have, in conjunction with the Jamaica Teachers’ Association (JTA), reformed and reopened the Voluntary Organisation for the Upliftment of Children (VOUCH) centre at West Race Course, in Kingston, with a particular focus on the diagnosis of the disease in the early childhood cohort. A similar facility is expected to be opened in Savanna-la-Mar by January 2016,” said Education Minister Ronald Thwaites.

He pointed out that the centres will supplement work currently underway in Kingston; May Pen, Clarendon; Mandeville, Manchester; Montego Bay, St James; St Ann’s Bay, St Ann and Port Antonio, Portland.

“The Ministry of Education treats special education as a priority area. The general subject is of great significance, because our anecdotal and some statistical evidence indicate that 20 to 25 per cent of our children fall somewhere on the spectrum of exceptionality and need special care,” he said.

ronnie thwaites and maia chung

Jamaica’s Education Minister Ronald Thwaites with Maia Chung – Photo
By Rochelle Williams

The minister commended the work of The Maia Chung Autism and Disabilities Foundation, adding that their help in increasing awareness of the condition is an important step in improving the national response.

“We are anxious to improve our facilities in this regard and we support entirely the effort that you are making in offering this scholarship,” he said addressing Jeanette Gordon who along with Founder Maia Chung was present for the launch   .

This endowment is endorsed by the ministry and will be promoted through its network of educators. The scholarship is open to basic, primary, secondary and tertiary students as well as people who are enrolled in a HEART Trust/NTA programme who are diagnosed with autism and are from families that have significant financial challenges.

People are being asked to contact Jamaica’s Ministry of Education at 2 National Heroes Circle Kingston 4 Jamaica 876-922-1400 fax 876-948-2683 toll free1-888-991-2070
they can also visit www.youtube.com/moejamaica or www.moe.gov.jm
vcustomerservice@moe.gov.jm or the Foundation at mcautismfondation@gmail.com or visit the website www.mcadf.org or call 1 876 464 4218 or follow founder Maia Chung who regularly updates the world on the Foundation’s activities via twitter and instagram @maiachung.

Autism is a neurological disorder that affects the normal functioning of the brain, impacting development in the areas of social interaction and communication skills. Manifestation of the disorder is difficulty with verbal and non-verbal communication.

Both children and adults are affected by the disorder, which typically appears during the first three years of a child’s life.

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