As a part of the commemorative activities scheduled by The Maia Chung Autism and Disabilities Foundation (MCADF), this April 2014; which is globally acknowledged as world Autism Awareness month, the MCADF has augmented the computer laboratory the entity started in 2012.
The project, which is called the Quinn Garren James Smith Computer Project, was named for the official Ambassador for the charity Quinn Smith.
The Quinn Garren James Smith Computer lab was started in 2012, with one new laptop donated as a teaching aid to the Adonijah Group of Schools located in Kingston Jamaica, to kick start the project.
The funds raised to acquire this first input, came from a fundraiser staged by New York based business man David Annakie, in 2012 which in the main …was to help the Foundation stay open, when lack of funds threatened the organization, with closure.
Laptops and tablets have been identified by scientists as the best method to assist children with Autism in the classroom environment.
Anecdotal evidence gathered by the Foundation, has uncovered that sadly most of the Jamaican schools that cater to Autistically affected individuals… are not able to afford these implements to sufficiently ensure that best practices are observed in the classroom, designed for the specials needs child.
The board of directors of The MCADF, decided to establish the lab, at the Adonijah school , due to the fact that Quinn Smith attended the institution .
The idea is, a computer with be added through the project to Adonijah as well as other partner schools of the MCADF.
This Autism month with donor John Bling on board, the Foundation was able to secure a new laptop, at a value of 60-thousand dollars to increase the inputs the project has been able to channel into the special needs school system.
Ms. Chung indicated that initially this new device was to go Adonijah however after an assessment by the board, the needs of other partners were found to be greater at this time and so the special needs school, The Academy was chosen to benefit.
According to Managing Director of the Foundation Maia Chung, “the MCADF team, had talks and we initially decided to add this new device to the one we had given to Adonijah in 2012, however with the needs of other schools we partner with, being discovered to be even worse than the needs of Adonijah at this time, the decision was taken to channel the donation to special needs school The Academy”.
According to Jeanette Gordon board member, “we have such limited resources we came to a decision that we could make the lab fluid, so as long as we are in partnership with various schools that provide educational services for the Autistic – under the umbrella of the lab we can give the donations we receive for this project to our various school partners”.
The handover of the computer was done at the top end of Autism Month at The Academy, located at 2 Mannings Avenue Kingston Jamaica.
The donation was well needed as school Principal Lavinia McClure, said that the three laptop used by the school for their special needs children had been robbed in 2012. The students had up until the donation been relegated to using desktops.
The Academy is a partner of the MCADF and caters to the educational needs of Autistic students and other intellectually challenged students.
Meanwhile entertainer John Bling the donor of the equipment said he is motivated as a successful entertainer, to help his nation, particularly the challenged children of the land.
According to Bling, “if more entertainers could use some of their earnings to supply these schools with at least one device such as this, major inroads in addressing the educational needs of the children special community could be met”.
According to http://www.myasdf.org/site/media-center/articles/why-the-ipad-is-such-a-helpful-learning-tool-for-children-with-autism/ “computers have always provided excellent ways to facilitate learning and communication for children living with autism. Now, with the innovation of the iPad, children with autism have even greater opportunities to improve their communication, motor, and cognitive skills.
In addition, “iPads (laptops) offer portability and flexibly that a traditional PC or laptop cannot provide to a young child. Since it utilizes a touch screen, the iPad is more accessible for children who have learning or coordination difficulties. Most children who use the iPad find that tapping and sliding motions are much easier than typing. iPads can also go wherever the child goes, which means they have ways to calm, focus, and learn while on-the-go.”
Chung said, “we really want to get more iPads into the system but right now in this economy laptops are great also”.
With the Quinn Garren James Smith laboratory now a fluid project, the MCADF is looking forward to spreading out its work not just in Kingston, but in the rural areas, where the lacks are even greater.
Autism is a mental condition, present from early childhood, characterized by great difficulty in communicating and forming relationships with other people and in using language and abstract concepts.