Devon Dick | Clara Ricketts says ‘Yes they can’ | Commentary


Last week, Dr Clara Ricketts was declared by Amazon as the bestselling author for the month of September in the category of learning disabilities for her book, Yes They Can: Working with Children with Learning and Behaviour Disorders. Ricketts, a deacon of Mamby Park Baptist Church, launched her first book during an impressive ceremony at Boulevard Baptist Church, St Andrew. The book posits that children with learning disabilities and behavioural disorders have the potential, with correct coaching, to become competent citizens.

All children do dumb things and all children need help to learn and behave properly. In fact, it can be proposed that all children have some form of learning disability and display behavioural disorders. The issue is where to locate children on this continuum of learning disability and behavioural disorder. Furthermore, even adults have learning disabilities in certain fields. Adults display behavioural disorders whether in Parliament, in the pulpit, at police stations and in our pews. Therefore, there is no need for adults to turn up their noses at children with issues. What is required from all persons is special attention, appreciation, affirmation, education, understanding and patience for children who display great amounts of disabilities and disorders and need specialised help to change for the better.

Furthermore, policymakers for Jamaica’s educational system ought to be sensitive to such issues.

Ricketts, in her seminal work, Yes They Can, argues effectively that children with behavioural disorders and learning disabilities can be transformed into responsible and productive citizens. Ricketts writes from a perspective as a parent of a child with such symptoms and who successfully overcame to be a wonderful adult. In fact, this young man gave an appropriate vote of thanks. Ricketts has successfully practised what she preaches with great results. Through personal experiences, in-depth research, and with Christian compassion, she challenges persons in government, private sector, church, school, community, homes to do better and be better in service to children with learning disabilities and behaviour disorders.

SOUND THEORY

Ricketts work is riveting, insightful and motivational. She describes her strengths, fears, opportunities, and weaknesses openly and honestly as a classroom teacher of children with learning disabilities and behaviour issues and as a parent. The real-life testimonies alone make this book special, unique and a treasure trove of evidence and data concerning significant and special children. However, this study is also based on sound theory and offers practical guidelines as to the way forward. She demonstrates that through special education children can regain confidence at her Sure Foundation Educational Centre, which she founded.

What else is in this book? Strategies that have proven effective in working with children with learning and behavioural challenges. Also, inspiration to work with these children. There are success stories of children with learning and behavioural challenges. Additionally, there are heartbreaking testimonies by children, parents and teachers.

Some persons have hidden hostility towards children with learning disabilities and behavioural disorders and some parents are even embarrassed by their presence at church and social functions. These parents blame themselves, thinking that it is some ‘sin’ in either their lives or the children’s lives why their children act that way. However, these children have gifts and bring their talents and gifts to God’s world and should be ministered to, and also have a significant service to offer in God’s mission. These children are made in the image of God and have potential to be creative and great.

Ricketts has filled a huge gap because very little has been documented about the nature of the challenge and opportunity to minister to these Jamaican children.

Rev Devon Dick is pastor of the Boulevard Baptist Church in St Andrew. He is author of ‘The Cross and the Machete’, and ‘Rebellion to Riot’. Send feedback to columns@gleanerjm.com.



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