There have been significant achievements made regarding the overall health of children in St. Lucia over the past 20 years. Improved pre-natal care, high immunisation rates and reduction of malnutrition are some of the major areas that have been given attention. However, it wasn’t until the 1990’s that comprehensive developmental screening of children at 6 weeks, 8 months, 3 to 5 years was instituted in the Health centres across the nation.
Previously there were limited intervention services available and no paediatric therapists (e.g., speech/ language therapists, paediatric physiotherapists or occupational therapists) available for children who were identified through this screening process.
The need for further assessment and for the development and implementation of individualized intervention and treatment was the rationale for the initiative in 1997 to start the CDGC in St. Lucia. In 2001 the CDGC was registered as a non-profit organization.
We at the Child Development and Guidance Centre (CDGC) aim is to ensure that children from birth to the age of sixteen receive all the necessary support and help that is required. This will enable them to achieve their full potential and become contributing members of society.
With both local and international support, a CDGC team was realised with Dr Brigitte Schuling at the helm. Between 1998 and 2002 the team organised an annual three-week summer camp for children with special needs. Under the theme “Moving Towards an Independent Future”, children with multiple disabilities received assessment and individual therapy, to learn how to function and better integrate their daily routine at home. Experienced volunteer physiotherapists, speech and language therapists and occupational therapists came from the UK, USA and Germany to provide their expertise.
In 2002 the CDGC was adopted by the St. Lucia Association for Persons with Developmental Disabilities of which the Dunnottar School for children with learning disabilities is also a part. The CDGC was initially housed at the school, but a new home for the CDGC opened in March 2005 consisting of one office for the paediatrician and one for the physiotherapist. This building was jointly funded by local businesses and Villa Kunterbunt – the German foundation for CDGC.
In 2007 Dr Schuling returned to Germany after working tirelessly on the CDGC project for 12 years. In 2010 Dr. Kim Gardner took over as director.
The Child Development and Guidance Centre continues to function as the only multi-disciplinary developmental assessment centre in St. Lucia. To date it has over 50 volunteer therapists providing thousands of hours of therapy. Over 1,000 children have been assessed at CDGC over the years and hundreds more within the school system. The referral numbers are increasing with 198 referrals in 2013 alone. This compares to the 2010 figure of an average of 80 children.
La Pansee Road
P. O. Box RB 2404
Telephone number: 1(758) 450-0240