Monday, October 19, 2009

Saluting Women of Merit for National Heroes Day

With today being National Heroes day, we recognise some of the women who've made the news for their work in 2009.. Meet marjorie, who is a famous Jamaican educator who is tackling Autism in the most fundamental ways. Shauna and Rosetta are living overseas but are Jamaican mothers Rosetta is an author mother and grandmother and despite not personally living with Autism has written a romance around the topic of Autism which she sent here she will be carrying out a book signing in New Jersey at the Barnes and Noble in Springfield

How one woman created an entire village

Barbara Gilbert does not own a home. The single mother of four still lives in a rented home in Atlantic Beach, Florida. Yet she has used her own money and raised more than US$200,000 in donations to build houses for 84 families across Jamaica who had nowhere to rest their heads.

She works through Food For The Poor, the Florida-based international charity with Jamaican roots. Now 14 families have settled in a community built three years ago with the money she raised and named in her honour - Barbara's Village, located at Bernard Lodge in St Catherine, on land donated by the Sugar Company of Jamaica.

Gilbert learnt about the needs of poor Jamaicans while listening to a radio telethon in 2005 in Florida.

When she visited the island to help one family she saw greater need and began what she says is a lifelong commitment to providing shelter for the poor who cannot afford a place to lay their heads.

When God called, Maia answered

When God told Maia Chung-Smith to start a foundation for autistic and disabled children, she heeded the call without knowing where the money would come from.

But thanks to her continued commitment, she continues to bring help and hope to children and parents who have to deal with the condition on a daily basis. To ensure that she reaches every sector of the society where autistic children are found, the journalist launched a radio programme to allow parents of autistic children to share their testimonies and coping strategies.

One of the group's major charity projects is the Promise Learning Centre which is the country's only dedicated autism school. Chung-Smith's organisation has lobbied for computers and other educational items for the children so far and intends to do much more for autistic children in Jamaica. See our Interview with Maia Chung-Smith here

The women of RISE

They are three completely different women, with their own challenges, unique characteristics and past. But for the last 19 years, Debbie Pinto, Sonita Morin-Abrahams and Jan Lopez have spent their time and energy working to better the one project that brought them together.

The women are the founding members of the RISE Life Management Services (formerly Addiction Alert) and like proud parents, have seen the programme through some of its toughest hours and rejoiced in some of its shining moments. Today, RISE works primarily in six inner-city communities where they try to educate children and adults alike about the dangers of addictions. It also operates a number of services including a life management skills training programme, parenting workshops, remedial and HEART Trust/NTA accredited vocational classes, adolescent and family counselling services and a classroom for drug and gambling prevention education. They also have a toll-free counselling service for addictive disorders and do assessments, referrals, drug-testing, family interventions and short-term individual and group counselling.

Marjorie Hylton's Promise

Despite their shortcomings, Marjorie Hylton is extremely proud of her 45 children, so much so that just talking about them brings tears to her eyes. Hylton is the founder and principal of the Promise Learning Centre in St Andrew, which for the past 16 years, has been a place of refuge for autistic children. The school is the only one of its kind in Jamaica and was borne from her desire to provide a nurturing environment for children with special needs. "I wanted to do something more than just ordinary teaching and I thought teaching special needs children would give me that fulfilment, and it certainly has," Hylton said. Hylton said she is flooded with calls from parents locally and oversees who want their children to be educated at Promise Learning Centre.

"People need a place to have their children schooled, because no matter how they push them in the regular school, the children are just squeezed out because they cannot function in the regular environment," she said.

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Monday, October 12, 2009

Discussion #3- Abortion...Whose right is it anyway?

With abortion being a raging debate, I just had to tune in, so what are your thoughts? Is abortion wrong across all fronts? or only on certain levels? Should someone be 'allowed' to terminate another's life? or is that decision to be left solely up to God? Share your thoughts

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Favourite Handbag

One of our Lovely Mommy readers submitted this and I just had to share. How cute is it to juxtapose your Ray of Sunshine to a beyond expensive bag Opie. Here goes:

Whether it's Coach, Nine West, LV, Prada, Kate Spade, Via Spiga, Banana Republic, Gap, Old Navy, Wilson's Leather or whatever your favorite brand of handbag may be, there is none like the one that I carried for 39 weeks then delivered into this world. So what brand is my favorite handbag right now? She is exclusively KC - mini me oh and mini daddy too lol.

I go for her without question and dressing her is a joy. I wear her with pride. I don't just set her down anywhere and I certainly don't leave her anyplace. You better believe this handbag has my attention all the time - well it is a serous price to replace her. She never rides on the floor of the car and throwing her over my shoulder is an act of play that reaps shrieks of laughter and screams that say "I like that, do it again mommy".

Once I step out with this handbag and make a public appearance it is on! From the grocery store to IHOP to Target to the park and don't mention restaurants and church. Others seem to like this handbag quite a bit and always make comments to the tune of :- "So pretty", "Oh so cute", "I like..." and "O my so, so beautiful". Some even want to hold my handbag for a while and others offer to take her home with them. If there are no comments the smiles and soft looks give away the hidden thoughts of the onlookers. My female companions who have similar totes easily begin to share their experiences and we seem to strike up an effortless bond.

Having this brand of handbag has brought me constant attention so I have to think twice about how I look so that I complement my handbag all the time. Since sometimes I just want to be chilled and easy with my threads this is a little pressure you know...sigh, but the handbag does always star the show.

Isn't it funny how having a baby can change your world and experience as you know it?

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Maia Chung Autism Foundation to seek support from the Jamaican Diaspora....Air Jamaica supports the cause

editdata.mso">MESSAGE FROM THE MINISTER OF HEALTH AND ENVIRONMENTCaption: Maia Chung Host and Creator of Specials Jamaica's only Autism Radio Show aired on Newstalk 93 FM every Tuesday between 10 to 12 midnight. Also pictured are Glendine Martin Production Co-ordinator and Alva Belnavis Production Coordinator and deejay

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National Carrier Air Jamaica has gotten firmly behind the effort to improve the lives of the Jamaican Autist, as the airline will be the national carrier for a team representing The Maia Chung Autism and Disabilities Foundation that will between October 19th to 25th - 2009, be visiting Manhattan, New York - to address the Jamaican consulate in Manhattan… ostensibly to solicit help for the Jamaican Autist from the Diaspora community, specifically in the areas of raising awareness about autism, obtaining books about Autism for a reading corner to be established in collaboration with the Jamaica Library Service at the Tom Readcom, as well as to get funding to help meet education costs for autistic children in Jamaica.

The trip came about due to Mrs. Chung-Smith’s award winning philanthropic work as recognized by The First Global Bank which named her First Global’s Woman of Vision 2009 the second such honour to be bestowed by the bank, the first being awarded to Dr. Olive Lewin last year.

The award took Chung-Smith’s work to the international level where it was picked up on by author Rosetta Jamieson-Thomas author of the Autism Romance “A Margin of Hope” – a fictitious tale about a Jamaican couple’s struggles with coping with their Autistic son.

Jamieson-Thomas in an effort to promote her book with the secondary agenda of using the novel to parlay help for the Jamaican Autist…upon hearing of the award bestowed on Chung-Smith invited The Maia Chung Autism and Disabilities Foundation team to visit the United States this October , to appear at a book signing for “ A Margin of Hope “ at the Barnes and Noble book store in Springfield New Jersey – with the dual intent to promote the issues of need in the Jamaican Autism community and highlight the need for tolerance towards Autists through her novel. Mrs. Jamieson-Thomas has no personal experience with Autism but was moved to pen the book as a result of her work with challenged individuals in New Jersey where her family now resides.

The signing event, blossomed into a full on mission to raise support when publicist and daughter of the author Shauna Jamieson, began negotiations to have the visit become more impactful through a Jamaican consulate event by The Maia Chung Autism and Disabilities Foundation team …that should spark more awareness Stateside with possibly more help accruing for Jamaicans living with Autism.

“Right now the education matters affecting the Autists are the most crucial, despite Ministry allusion earlier this year , that some of the schools offering private care for Autism may have gotten grant aid status for this September …which would have been a great step towards defraying the astronomical costs associated with educating the Autistic…the promise was not kept by education Minister Andrew Holness” – Mrs. Chung-Smith said.

This has seen the expulsion of several seven and eight year old Autists from their schools as since the schools are not government funded, the schools themselves cannot pay teachers or pay rent to keep the institutions going.

“In this vein instead of lying down and letting go of all hope I am determined to see what we can do for ourselves I am a great believer in helping ourselves. The trip will mean me taking time off from my job but I am compelled to do what must be done, if we get even one child some help… my philosophy is the Foundation will be successful” – Chung said.

The actual link between the Jamiesons and Chung-Smith, occurred via the nation’s only Autism radio show SPECIALS aired on Newstalk 93 FM each Tuesday between 10 pm to 12 midnight. The mother and daughter duo after several emails did an interview on the show representing the first promotion of their work and publicisation of their interest in the disorder’s treatment in their homeland.

Copies of “ A Margin of Hope” are available for loan from The Maia Chung Autism and Disabilities Foundation by calling 876-578-3079 – leave your name and number.

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Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Discussion #2- Sparing the Rod and Spoiling the child

We've all heard at sometime or another about sparing the rod and spoiling the child. In the United States, it is said that the rod is often spared and the child spoiled. Back in Jamaica, more often than not, the rod is not spared, nor the child spoiled. In other parts of the world, this 'decision' lies in 1. Who your parents are 2. The laws of the land. Generally, though, different parts of the world have been taking different approaches to a 'good beating', so what's your take, Should the rod be spared at all times and the child spoiled? or vice versa? What other ways can we as parents discipline children effectively without 'spanking'. In fact, should spanking be absolete? Let us Know. At the end of the week, I'll post a bit on what professionals have to say about the issue.
N.B. I found this image to be pretty funny.

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Friday, October 2, 2009

Breast Cancer Awareness Month and Save Lids to Save Lives Campaign Launched

Having attended, yesterday's launch of the Annual Breast Cancer awareness month, I felt the need to share with you how you can play your part, via the Save Lids to Save Lives Campaign. Below you'll find the pre event press Release I did for the event. I have also attached a link that gives information on how to do the breast self examination. Dr. Eva Fuller, Director of Health Prevention and protection in her presentation at the launch, indicated that "It is the most prevalent type of cancer in Jamaican women and is responsible for about 18% percent of deaths in Jamaican women each year. According to data from the Jamaica Cancer Registry, between 1988 and 1992 breast cancer accounted for 26.4% of all female cancers. In fact, it’s believed that one in every 23 woman will develop breast cancer in her lifetime and a 1999 survey showed that at least 16 women die of the disease each year in Jamaica. that 1 in every 23 women in Jamaica is prone to Breast Cancer." So I implore you all to do the Breast Self Examination, know your risk factors and remember that Early Detection is your best defence in the fight against Breast Cancer

Jamaica Cancer Society and Yoplait- Boosting Breast Cancer Awareness

With the desire to stem the incidence of Breast Cancer in Jamaica, Yoplait and the Jamaica Cancer Society launched an undoubtedly healthy partnership on Thursday, October 1, 2009. In a joint venture to mark the start of the annual Breast Cancer awareness month and Yoplait’s Save Lids to Save Lives Campaign, representatives from both organisations announced the partnership.

The partnership arrangement will see Yoplait and Wisynco, through the Yoplait Save Lids to Save Lives campaign donating $8 from each Yoplait sale from October 1 to November 14, to the Jamaica Cancer Society’s initiatives. A minimum donation of $200,000 is guaranteed but everyone can join the cause by buying Yoplait to make that amount bigger. Select retailers will also join the cause by offering Yoplait at discounted prices on specific dates each week. On these days, store staff will wear Pink Save Lids, Save Lives shirts to show their support. Participating retailers include Progressive Grocers and Lee’s Food Fair Supermarkets.

Caption: Mr. Earl Jarrett, Chairman of the Jamaica Cancer Society presents Dr. Eva Fuller, Director of Health Prevention and Protection at the Ministry of Health with a Save Lids to Save Lives Campaign T-shirt, while Sharon Neins, Country Manager for General Mills looks on.

This partnership is only fitting since yogurt has proven health benefits which include lowering the risks of many types of cancer. International bodies of research also suggest that populations that eat large amounts of yogurt [or other fermented milk products] seem to have a lower risk of developing breast cancer. Concomitantly, Mr. Earl Jarrett, Chairman of the Jamaica Cancer Society points out that “At a time when the world is plagued by economic uncertainties, it is indeed a welcome venture to have Yoplait on Stream. We certainly look forward to the assistance in continuing to achieve our objectives and encourage Jamaica to support the Save Lids, Save Lives campaign as it supports the Jamaica Cancer Society”

To cement the relationship, William Mahfood, Managing Director of the Wisynco group expounded on the healthy effects of such a relationship. He asserted that “The Wisynco team applauds the work that the Jamaica Cancer Society has been doing and we are more than enthused that through our product Yoplait, we are able to join in the fight against breast cancer. We also invite the public to participate through the purchase of Yoplait.

This year’s breast cancer month, with Yoplait’s input will see a series of healthy initiatives, including free aerobics in the Emancipation Park, (led by Jamfit’s Karelle Ashley) each Tuesday, 5:30-6:30 p.m. throughout the month of October.

For More information about the Schedule of Activities for Breast Cancer Month or to receive more information on Breast Cancer, you can contact the Jamaica Cancer Society at: 927 - 4265 or via email at You can also receive more detailed information on the Save Lids to Save Lives Campaign and the free aerobics sessions in the Emancipation Park by contacting me at
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