"Moving towards an independent future."

Child Development and Guidance Centre

History of the CDGC

At the Child Development and Guidance Centre (CDGC), children from birth to the age of sixteen years receive all the necessary support and help in order for them to achieve their full potential and become contributing members of society. Although much had been achieved for the health of all children in St. Lucia over the 20 years since it had achieved independence in 1996 - such as improved pre-natal care, good immunisation, reduction of malnutrition - it is only recently that comprehensive screening of children at 6 weeks, 8 months, 3 and 5 years has been instituted in the Health centres.

However, for children who were identified through this screening process, there were limited services and no paediatric therapists (e.g., speech and language therapists, paediatric physiotherapists or occupational therapists) available on the island before 1998.

The need for further assessment and the development and implementation of an individual intervention/treatment plan by a multi-disciplinary team of professionals at the centre was the rationale for the initiative in 1997 to start the CDGC in St. Lucia.

The idea for the project was supported by the Minister of Health Hon. Sarah Flood and also Archbishop Kelvin Felix of St. Lucia. The initial financial support was guaranteed by Dr. H. Brandenburg, Bishop of Sweden, who donated the sum of US$ 50,000 in January 1998. In October 1998 an association was founded in Münster, Germany, "Förderverein Villa Kunterbunt" (the name refers to a well known children’s book written by Astrid Lindgren) in order to raise funds to help support the CDGC.

Between 1998 and 2002 the CDGC 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, while their caregiver was present, to learn how to continue the therapy and integrate it into their daily routine at home. Experienced physiotherapists, speech and language therapists and occupational therapists came from the UK, USA and Germany to volunteer their services. Not only did the participants benefit tremendously, but Community Health Aides and Nurses were also invited to take part and learn from the visiting therapists.

In 2001, the CDGC became a registered non-profit organisation in St. Lucia. 

In 2002 the CDGC was adopted by SLADD, the St. Lucia Association for Persons with Developmental Disabilities. It endeavours to offer a comprehensive service focusing on the diagnostic and therapeutic aspects of developmental disabilities, alongside the Dunnottar School for children with learning disabilities and the vocational workshop. 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, without any financial aid from the St. Lucian government.

The multi-disciplinary team ideally consists of a number of health professionals: a paediatrician, a paediatric physiotherapist, a speech and language therapist and an occupational therapist. However, due to a lack of funding from the St. Lucian government, these positions do not yet exist on a permanent, full-time basis. The core team to date has been comprised of Dr. Schüling (paediatrician and director) and Elaine Clement (paediatric physiotherapist) with overseas speech and language therapists and occupational therapists volunteering their services as frequently as possible for limited periods of time. 

The CDGC promotes the right of children to health care and education in a safe, secure and loving environment. In order to make these services available for all needy children there are no fees/charges for assessments and therapy sessions. Parents are, however, invited to make a contribution. 

The long term goal is to see the CDGC being run by well trained St. Lucian professionals fully supported and funded by the Ministries of Health and Education.

For further information, or if you wish to make a contribution, please see the "contact us!" section.

Dr. Schüling, Dr. Camps and Dr. Bird Dr. B. Schüling (CDGC director),
Dr. M. Camps (Previous community paedeatrician)and
Dr. J. Bird (Present community paedeatrician)
at the CDGC opening, 4.3.05

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Construction of the new CDGCCDGC,1.JPG (83951 bytes)

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CDGC, 11.JPG (78036 bytes)

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