Scores of special needs children were given a reason to celebrate the Yuletide season with a difference, thanks to a Corporate Area organisation, Inspire to Empower a Change Foundation that hosted a Christmas treat at the Half-Way Tree Transport Centre on Thursday.

The special needs children who came from various communities across the island were given an opportunity to collect gifts, have fun and frolic while bonding with their peers, something that not many of the special needs children were able to do throughout the year.

To top it off, the children got the chance to spend parts of the day with one of their idols, global sprint sensation, Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, who was more than happy to greet them and provide words of encouragement.

Many of the children were brought to tears after they got the chance to meet the sprint sensation.

The children also got the chance to meet Nigeria High Commissioner to Jamaica, Janet Olisa, who was among the many special guests who attended the event.

Stephanie Josephs and Anita Atkinson-Deans, co-founders of the Change Foundation, said the idea for the treat came about when they started to work at the Jamaica Urban Transit Company (JUTC) and were both assigned to take care of the children with disabilities who ride the state-owned buses.

Josephs and Atkinson-Deans said it was from there that they developed a special bond with the children who are in challenging circumstances.

“We took care of them like they were our own. We showed them a lot of love each day. If one of the children did not come on the bus, we would call their parents and ask why the child was absent, and the parents would give us the reason. Sometimes the explanation would be that the children were not feeling well on a particular day,” said Josephs.

“We decided to start a foundation and we came up with the name, ‘Be the Change Foundation. Then we changed the name to Inspire to Empower a Change Foundation. It fits right into our vision,” said Atkinson-Deans.

“We told Keith Blake, one of our managers, about the idea, and he came right on board from the inception,” added Atkinson- Deans.

The two foundation members said they also sent a letter to Sanmerna Foundation and within less than two days, directors of that foundation, Robert and Mark White, gave their approval to support the Change Foundation initiative, and are now the main sponsors for the Christmas treat.

Robert White in his message said Sanmerna Paper Product Limited and the Sanmerna Foundation “remain steadfast in the commitment to help change the world one person at a time, as we continue to give help to the less fortunate through this annual Christmas treat.

“We get much joy knowing we are changing lives through this mood of giving. In this our third year, we reached out to bring others on board, like the Nigerian Ambassador and our world-renown sprinter, Shell-Ann Fraser-Pryce. This is evidence that we are expanding the offerings. Through our giving, we are planting seeds of happiness in these children,” said White.


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