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Digicel Jamaica Foundation project receives international recognition

Organisation’s work on special needs lauded by the Zero Project

Kingston, Jamaica: Out of 200 projects in 58 countries worldwide, the Digicel Jamaica Foundation’s expansion of the Jacob’s Ladder facility for adults with special needs has been recognised as one of the most outstanding Innovative Practices of 2015 by the Zero Project.

An internationally-known initiative of the Austria based Essl Foundation, the Zero Project provides a forum for the exchange and recognition of solutions that are geared at improving the lives of persons living with disabilities.   This year, the Zero Project recognised 50 projects worldwide that addressed the areas of Independent Living and Political Participation of persons with special needs.

“It’s amazing work that the Digicel Foundation is doing in Jamaica,” said Martin Essl, founder of the Essl Foundation. “It’s also fabulous that this is the first time that Jamaica has been recognised at the Zero Conference.  It is a project worthy of recognition at the global level.”

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Providing a means of independent living for persons with special needs aged 18 and older, Jacob’s Ladder is a programme of Mustard Seed Communities. It is located on a 100-acre estate in Haddon, St. Ann and caters to over 80 adults with varying disabilities. The facility was expanded to become even more sustainable through a J$28M partnership with the Digicel Jamaica Foundation.

This partnership led to the establishment of Care Plus, a state-of-the-art multi-functional facility that doubles as a therapeutic space. In addition to this, six residential cottages were constructed to provide housing for the residents of Jacob’s Ladder.

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Further development is also planned for the Jacob’s Ladder community, including the construction of fish ponds and a poultry house to help reduce operational expenses and widen the scope of training opportunities for the persons living at the facility.

DF_Zero Project and Jacob's Ladde“When the Foundation undertakes these projects, we do so with complete faith in their value to our society,” said Kerry-Jo Lyn, Director of Projects and Strategic Initiatives, who accepted the Award on behalf of Digicel Jamaica Foundation. “This initiative built a sustainable ICT-enabled community to support independent living for persons with special needs.  We are excited to have been recognised for our work with Jacob’s Ladder, but more importantly, we are delighted at the opportunity that this presents for us to build new partnerships for even greater work in the future.”

According to the Zero Project, the Digicel Foundation was found to be exemplary in the areas of innovation, impact, chances of long-term growth and success as well as scalability. They also added that Digicel Jamaica Foundation’s business approach to sustainable community living is outstanding in providing a practical solution to improve accessibility for persons with disabilities.

Following the announcement of the 50 most innovative projects world-wide, Kerry-Jo Lyn, was invited to speak at the Zero Project’s conference, held at the United Nations Headquarters in Vienna, Austria from February 25-27. She presented on the topic ‘Social Enterprises Financing Independent Living’.

Read more about the Zero Project at: http://zeroproject.org/

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