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Special needs education

Our Manager of Sister Basilia Center, Mimi Hodge, was invited to speak at Parliament on the invitation of their committee of education, culture, youth and sport affairs.

The topic was special education: a status update of initiatives, programs and needs in the community. Sister Basilia Center is not a special education school but offers quality care to persons with an intellectual disability with keen attention to their full development.

The clients of the SBC all have one thing in common: they all have an intellectual disability. That has as consequence that they function on a lower level then their actual age and need more support during daily activities. To have a safe, stimulating and inviting environment that will give the clients a meaningful and fulfilling life with the following actions:

  • To have clients develop to their full abilities: learning new or maintaining skills which are realistic in light of their developmental level and which are helpful to stimulate independence and self-reliance as much as possible and to offer guidance and support where needed.

  • To have the clients integrated and included in society as much as possible.

  • To provide stimulating and meaningful activities that will enrich their overall well being.

These goals are linked to the rights of persons with an intellectual disability, what we strive to achieve through our work and services by all what we do.

Photo: Mimi Hodge speaking at Parliament


Over the years we have witnessed that some schools and communities are not acceptant to persons that have special needs. Oftentimes these persons with special needs are referred to Sister Basilia Center or they get lost in the community. Once their loved ones are diagnosed with ADHD, Autism, and Down syndrome there needs for education, housing, their rights, are a struggle to be met. Parents have little to no resources to remedy their situation, assistance is not always given. Often, they leave the island for better care for their loved ones. It is not easy for parents to just get up and leave their homes and job. And it should also not be necessary, as these children have the right to enjoy education on their own island. Education that meets their needs, not only on primary level but also on secondary level.

Inclusion, dignity, support for families and the right to thrive on your own island, regardless of someone’s abilities, really stood out in her presentation. Mimi was grateful for the opportunity to present the current status and challenges to Parliament and looks forward to continued dialogue to work towards improving the lives of those who are “differently abled”.

We are also very proud of our colleague, Mireya Torrenga, who is the founder and president of the Down Syndrome SXM and Caribbean Foundation (DSSCF). She made a passionate and personal presentation to the committee of education, culture, youth and sports of Parliament, on the topic of special education.

As a mother of a daughter with Down Syndrome she gave the members of parliament an honest and real picture of what life is like when you raise a child on SXM with special needs. With her foundation she aims to improve their chances to full development and to support parents as they navigate the school system, healthcare and their child’s rights to enjoy the best quality of life. Her observation that some parents of children with special needs don’t dream anymore for the future possibilities for their child really hit home to those that saw her presentation. All parents should have dreams for their children and their future, regardless of the disabilities they may have.

Keep fighting Mireya for those that need our help, inclusion and equal rights for all!

Photo: Mireya Torrenga speaking at Parliament

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