Video: Education Minister Press Conference

March 17, 2021 | 0 Comments

[Updated] Minister of Education Diallo Rabain is holding a press conference this morning [March 17] on Intellectual Developmental Disabilities Awareness, and we will have additional coverage later on and in the meantime the live video is below.

Update: The live broadcast has concluded and the 22-minute replay is below

Update 1.40pm: Minister Rabain’s remarks:

Good Morning and thank you for coming.

This month Intellectual Developmental Disabilities Awareness is being observed, and today we are joining in the global recognition.

Developmental Disabilities covers a broad range of physical, cognitive and/or behaviour conditions such as autism spectrum disorder, hearing loss, vision impairment, cerebral palsy, spina bifida, downs syndrome, intellectual disabilities, attention deficit and learning disabilities.

Therefore, I am pleased to have here with me two professionals who are knowledgeable and versed in developmental disabilities – Mrs. Tina Duke, the Acting Assistant Director of Student Services in the Department of Education, and Ms. Tina Nash, Executive Director of WindReach. They will share information about Developmental Disabilities.

However, first I will speak a bit more about Intellectual Developmental Disabilities Awareness and the Dame Marjorie Bean Hope Academy – our school that services children with special needs; and then reference the ‘ ‘Ministry’s financial support provided to WindReach.

The Ministry of Education is partnering with the Principal, teachers and staff at the Dame Marjorie Bean Hope Academy to observe Intellectual Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month. We are on a campaign to raise public awareness about the inclusion of people with intellectual developmental disabilities and bring awareness to the barriers that people with disabilities still sometimes face in connecting to the communities in which they live.

Developmental disabilities [IDDs] are usually present at birth and negatively affect the individual’s physical, intellectual, or emotional development.

Many of these conditions affect multiple body parts or systems which includes difficulties with intellectual functioning, including learning, adaptive behaviour, and everyday social and life skills.

The term “developmental disabilities” is a broader category of often lifelong disability that can be intellectual, physical, or both. “IDD” is often used to describe situations in which intellectual disability and other disabilities are present.

Events and activities that will be held during the month will shine a spotlight on individuals with disabilities in our community and shares how persons with intellectual developmental disabilities live every day. In return, the public can learn how they can lend support to persons with developmental disabilities and help them achieve their dreams.

The Ministry of Education is proud of the excellent work and support services that the Dame Marjorie Bean Hope Academy provides our children who have developmental disabilities. This school offers dedicated services for students with severe to profound special needs and with multiple challenges. The school programmes focus on enriching students’ lives through education and development support and increasing student independence to help them achieve their ultimate potential.

The dedicated Principal and staff at Hope Academy achieve these programme outcomes by implementing a comprehensive curriculum concentrating on developing receptive and expressive communication skills; functional literacy and mathematics skills; activities of daily living; social skills development; behaviour interventions; pre-vocational and vocational skills; community-based instruction and art, recreation and leisure skills. In essence, the programmes at DAME, like all other schools, focuses on the whole child.

During this current budget year and the current school year, amid the COVID -19 pandemic, the Principal and staff focused on the following priorities:

  • Increasing student communication with the use of communication devices;
  • Training the entire staff to become Registered Behaviour Technicians [RBTs] so that they can appropriately manage challenging behaviours; and
  • Focused instruction to develop language.

The Department’s technical officers have already seen firsthand the gains that students have made in developing their communication skills.

Also, let me share that students who attend the Dame Marjorie Bean Hope Academy are provided daily transportation by the Department of Education to and from school. There are two Bus Drivers and one Bus Attendant who provide them with transportation as well as students in ASD programmes at different schools, who also receive services at the WindReach Facility in Warwick.

I am incredibly proud of the leadership team and the staff at the Dame Marjorie Bean Hope Academy. Their commitment, dedication, attention to, care, and love for our children with special needs are extraordinary.

Dame Marjorie Bean is the beneficiary of a registered Bermuda charity, Friends of Dame Marjorie Bean Hope Academy. Therefore, I extend my thanks to them for all they do in raising funds and awareness on behalf of the school family.

This month the Principal and staff will host a virtual open house for key stakeholders, promote awareness on a radio show, and share videos and information via social media.
As we observe Intellectual Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month, the Ministry of Education is pleased to share that we provide an annual grant to the WindReach Facility to support their programmes and services.

Most Bermudians are aware of the phenomenal recreational and fully-accessible facility located in Warwick Parish. WindReach has a multi-purpose Activity Centre, Animal Zone, Therapeutic Riding Centre, and a fully-accessible playground. Their programmes have a variety of therapeutic and educational experiences for people with varying physical and intellectual abilities. On average more than 200 participants are benefitting from their programmes every week. Many of the participants are Bermuda Public School Students. We are pleased to support the tremendous contribution that WindReach makes by affording supplemental programmes and services that our children need.

I will now ask Mrs. Tina Duke to provide a bit more information about the programmes and services provided in our public schools to support children with special needs, and then Ms. Tina Nash, Executive Director of WindReach, will share a few remarks about the various activities at the WindReach facility.

Thank you, Mrs. Duke and Ms. Nash, and now we will take questions.

Acting Director of Department of Education’s Student Services Tina Duke’s remarks:

Thank You Minister. Good morning. The Student Services section of the Department of Education provides an extensive range of educational services for our students with exceptionalities. Starting with our ASD programmes [Autism Spectrum Disorders] that are inclusive of:

  • Asperger’s Syndrome;
  • Childhood Disintegrative Disorder [CDD];
  • Classic Autistic Disorder; and.
  • Pervasive Developmental Disorder – Not Otherwise Specified [PDD-NOS]. Also known as Global Developmental Delays

The Department of Education currently has four primary level ASD Classes, one middle school class and one senior school class

We also provide services to students in our Functional Skills programmes, that are offered at the Pre-school, Primary, Middle and Senior levels with one class at each level. This programme services students that fall in the moderate to severe range for intellectual disabilities.

We have a dedicated team of teachers and Para-educators who support our Vison and Hearing students. They provide students and teachers with the necessary resources they need to help each student become successful members of their communities and to equip those in the visual impairment field and Deaf and hard of hearing field with readily available resources to meet the wide range of needs of the students they serve. In layman’s term these professionals level the playing field for our students, providing them with what they need to access the curriculum and daily life.

I want to bring attention to the great work being done across the Bermuda Public School System that promotes inclusion and integration for students with intellectual and developmental disabilities. We promote the coming together of students with and without disabilities to form strong diverse, school communities where all students learn, play and grow together.

During the school year, The Student Services team have been committed to ensuring professional development has been provided for learning support staff in our schools so that our most vulnerable students receive quality instruction and services. We partner with the Department of Health to ensure that our students receive additional services, namely Speech and Language services, Occupational therapy, and Physical therapy.

I want to highlight the phenomenal staff, teachers, and Para-Educators that work with this population. They put in a great deal of work to ensure that our students receive a quality education that provides equal access to academics, as well as Encore subjects such as Performing and Technical arts, Family studies, Business and Computer studies.

Our teachers along with various community partners such as, The BF&M No Limits Sailing Programme, Windreach, Tulo Valley Plant Nursery, Kaleidoscope Art Therapy, Yoga and Socarobics at Hindsight Fitness and Wellness, and Gardening at Government House, provide exceptional programmes for our most vulnerable population giving our students life-altering experiences. I want to say a big thank you to our community partners for all that they do for our students

I am honored that today the Minister saw fit to demonstrate and share how people with disabilities live full lives doing the same things that people without developmental disabilities enjoy while, at the same time, recognizing the barriers that they sometimes face and must overcome to participate.

In closing, The Bermuda Public School System is about inclusion, but it’s also about acceptance.

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