Andrew's Story, St Lucia

Beverly-Anne Barthelmy and Alma Harris

Andrew goes to school in Castries, the capital of St Lucia in the eastern Caribbean. Including children with Down's Syndrome in primary schools is unusual in St Lucia. At the age of three months, Andrew's parents took him to the early stimulation programme at Dunnottar School, one of four schools which cater for mentally challenged children in St Lucia. Andrew attended the programme once a week until he went to pre-school. Staff from Dunnottar monitored him throughout his pre-school years.

But where would Andrew go next? Dunnottar School was interested in beginning a new programme to include children with Down's Syndrome in regular schools. In September 2001 a school was identified, the principal and teachers were interested in facilitating the programme and Andrew was offered a place. A teacher from Dunnottar School provided support in the regular primary school and four children with Down's Syndrome were included in the programme.

Andrew is now eight and has almost completed three years at the school, two in the mainstream class with occasional reinforcement of learning in the shared resource room. In this room the Blind Welfare Association supports visually impaired children, and others with difficulties in learning receive extra help.

We discuss Andrew's progress on a daily basis. His self-confidence is increasing, he is becoming more independent and is able to mix with others - not just family members. In the following conversation we (Alma, Andrew's support teacher and Beverley, his mother) reflect on the progress he has made:

This conversation took place in Castries during a SCcOPE course, attended by Andrew's mother in March 2004. His teacher attended a course in Trinidad in 2003 and carried out a community development project - 'Empowering Parents Through Education' - before graduating from the course. Andrew's parents are actively involved in the St Lucia Association of People with Developmental Disabilities (SLADD), which has its own special education centre, Dunnottar School.

Contact SLADD at:
PO Box 849
St Lucia

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