MARIGOT–The Rambaud St. Louis Fête Association organised its first annual “shindig” for the island’s physically or mentally challenged citizens at the St. Louis Cultural Ground on Saturday, February 11.
The two main groups invited for an afternoon of entertainment comprised children from the special needs institution Service d’ Education Specialisée et de Soins a Domicile (SESSAD) from Marigot and those from the Sister Basilia Center on the Dutch side, both groups accompanied by carers. Some senior citizens were also present.
Vice-President of the Collectivité Ramona Connor in charge of Families and Social Affairs, Territorial Councillors Jean-David Richardson and Antero de Jesus Santos, were joined by special guests from the Dutch side, President of Parliament Sarah Wescot-Williams and Minister of Culture, Sports and Youth Affairs, Silveria Jacobs.
Connor said in her remarks she always has great admiration for Etienne “Rocky” Andrew and his board for all the good work the Association does every year on behalf of the community with their different projects. “I just cannot thank you enough,” she said.
Director of SESSAD, Fernand Semedo, talked about the function of SESSAD which helps special needs children integrate into society by taking part in social activities, learning arts and crafts and school work, with special educators also helping children in the home and even in the classroom. SESSAD currently caters to 47 children from St. Martin and St. Barths.
“All the children we have are in school, either in primary school, Collège, or Lycée,” he noted.
After lunch a programme of entertainment was enjoyed by all. Entertainers included Cedric Ray, Addy Richardson, Gunslingers Steel Band, and Patricia Chance-Duzant’s Five Stars dancers. Chance-Duzant discarded her formal lawyer’s gown for a sultry Arabian ensemble to introduce her four fellow dancers. They performed two dances.
The highlight of the afternoon, however, was listening to the beat of African rhythms by the Coralita Brotherhood Drummers, four young boys ages 15-17 from SESSAD who gave an amazing display of precision drumming. They were led by Semedo, also drumming.
The boys – Jonathan, Jean-Baptiste, Jean-David and Jean-Yves – are all at the Lycée. Hard to believe but Semedo disclosed between the four of them they have autism, intellectual difficulties, and difficulties speaking and writing.