Jamaican Autism and Disabilities Foundation awards the nation’s first ever Academic Scholarship geared specifically for Autistic students.
MCADF – PRESS RELEASE
As the first month of the fall academic term closes The Maia Chung Autism and Disabilities Foundation (MCADF) has chosen the first recipient of the scholarship for Autistic students, to be used for their academic and therapy needs.
The scholarship was launched last year… 2015, in collaboration with the Jamaican Ministry of Education, with then Education Minister Ronald Thwaites and Founder of the Autism and Disabilities Foundation Maia Chung in October, at the offices of the Ministry of Health in Kingston Jamaica.
The young recipient is 5 year old Shamarie Joshua Smart, a student at the Sylvia Foote Basic School in Kingston. Diagnosed at the age of three by his physician Dr. Maureen Samms-Vaughn, young Shamarie is also afflicted with seizures which affect his health.
The scholarship amount is 40 thousand dollars JMD yearly and goes to one Autistic student each year whose family applies for the benefit.
Based on the fact that the provision for the academic needs for Autistic Jamaican students are so limited, the Foundation, will award the scholarship to a primary school student, in one year , a secondary school student in the following year and a tertiary school student in the other year.
This pattern will pertain until the organisation’s fundraising activities and State support increases to award three scholarships yearly at all three levels.
The MCADF is a non-govermental and a non-profit that is eight years old.
According to MCADF founder, Maia Chung – “ it was a difficult decision, with such limited funds and so many educable Autistic children in Jamaica in need”.
She added, ” but in the end the team voted on Shamarie Smart. We intend to grow with this young man and watch his progress with our intervention, and log the progress he makes; in order that we may help the Autism situation in anyway we can from the lessons learnt from his specific case”.
She added that, “the scholarship was motivated by the life and development of the Ambassador of the MCADF Foundation Quinn Garren James Smith, who is now preparing for his CXC examinations, basically the Caribbean equivalent of college entry tests in the United States”.
Chung noted that when the Foundation started its work in 2008, it was focused on causes and cures, however as the evolution of the organization came about, it was revealed that there are a myriad of urgent issues. Especially the fact that a vast majority of diagnosed Autists are educable and would fall under any state laws that require all educable children, to be in school, in their appropriate context”.
In addition the ones that are capable, a vast majority of affected Jamaicans cannot afford.
So according to Chung, “something needed to be done”.
Maia Chung added that anecdotally the number of Autism cases in Jamaica are growing. She stated the provisions are not growing as quickly as they are needed.
The mandate of Foundation, to develop better and better ways to assist Autistic Jamaicans, in ways that really impact the lives we touch.
The endorsement by the Jamaican Government is a great encouragement.
The scholarship is paid out over the period of the term of award for any academic and therapy needs it can cover, to help the beneficiary… access the best quality of life that the global human rights community endorses, no matter what their race, disability, ethnicity, belief or challenge.
For more on the organisation’s programmes and work log on to www.mcadf.org.
Autism is a complex neurobehavioral condition that includes impairments in social interaction and developmental language and communication skills combined with rigid, repetitive behaviors. Because of the range of symptoms, this condition is now called autism spectrum disorder (ASD).
It covers a large spectrum of symptoms, skills, and levels of impairment. ASD ranges in severity from a handicap that somewhat limits an otherwise normal life to a devastating disability that may require institutional care.
Children with autism have trouble communicating. They have trouble understanding what other people think and feel. This makes it very hard for them to express themselves either with words or through gestures, facial expressions, and touch.