The Robinson Smiles and Hope Foundation and prominent business person Shelly Williams are helping the Ministry of Education ensure that students with special needs are able to attend online classes in the COVID-19 environment.
Board members of The Foundation, established ten years ago by Barbadians living abroad, Julia Robinson and her husband, Dr Alfred Robinson, officially handed over 21 specially designed desktop tablets, which will cater to the needs of students of the Ann Hill and Irving Wilson schools. Those students who are visually impaired will particularly benefit from the large screen devices.
Board member and veteran journalist Maria Bradshaw who spoke on behalf of the Robinson family who could not attend this morning’s handing over ceremony due to current travel restrictions said Julia Robinson reached out to her when the pandemic started, inquiring about what could be done to help children unable to afford technological devices.
“She set up a Go Fund Me page looking to raise US $1,000; there was an overwhelming response, and she was able to surpass that number by US$500. She partnered with a Google company and as a result, she was able to source these devices. As you can see, they are not the regular small devices, they are pretty big, they are desktops and they are very user friendly.
“Obviously, we had some difficulties getting them to Barbados. There are actually 21 of them. Julia would have reached out on Facebook asking for any businessperson who could assist her, and Shelly Williams readily agreed. So this was a great partnership between the Foundation and Shelly Williams because without her help, these devices probably wouldn’t be here so soon,” Bradshaw said.
Meanwhile, Chief Education Officer Joy Adamson, who extended gratitude to the Foundation for its donation to the nation’s children, explained that some students with special needs are yet to participate in online classes. However, she said the Ministry allowed principals and teachers to go to the school and prepare and photocopy work for students who do not have devices to get online.
“We identified the Ann Hill and Irving Wilson schools as two that would benefit greatly from these tablets that will be positioned on the desks. We are also aiming to get some Apple Ipads that have a little bit more accessibility than the traditional tablets for the special needs children.
“So we are working with those children constantly. I know the teachers with special needs students have gone beyond their regular duties because they actually have to take work for some of the students who are unable to get online.
“What we also aimed to do is to get some MI5 devices for the ones who didn’t have Internet or Wi-Fi accessibility because the tablets that can hold the Wi-Fi device are too small for those children. So we are always looking at ways to make sure the special needs children are not left behind,” Adamson said.
Over the years, Robinson Smiles has donated food, school and medical supplies, along with clothing to underprivileged Barbadian children. [email protected]
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