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May 20, 2021

Tablets Give the Gift of Voice to Stella Maris Students

Several more children from Stella Maris School were given the gift of language – or the ability to communicate that language – when they received electronic devices with a special app. News Five was at today’s happy handing over.


Andrea Polanco, Reporting

Seven students from Stella Maris each received a tablet through the partnership of Autism Belize, Cellular World and some generous private citizens. Christy Castillo Almeida of Autism Belize says they now have the power of communication.


Christy Castillo Almeida

Christy Castillo Almeida, Founder/Executive Chair, Autism Belize

“It is the gift of communication because these are kids who are living in their own world because they don’t have a way to share or they don’t have a way to tell you that they are hungry or that they are happy or that their stomach hurts.   Some of them might have some basic signs but again not enough to really communicate their basic wants or needs much less have a nice conversation with someone and these kids are getting older. It is amazing how frustrating and isolating it is for these kids. And the minute they have that thing they get that moment when they realize I can do this and do this and that opens up the world to them.”


The electronic device comes with an application that will help to teach these students to communicate with their teachers, family and even school mates. Almeida says the app is interactive and has different levels of functionality.


Christy Castillo Almeida

“It would be like I want to eat and then you can have their favourite things there and it gets basic but then you grow with them.  So then we started with I feel and you can add emotions to it and then you start adding even more as they start getting to it and with the school you can even add teachers and that is all there because you get to model with them as they are starting to learn right?”


Like twelve year-old Tajia Thompson – she is mostly non-verbal and so it is a challenge for her at home and school. This donation will help her mom to get six months of training on how to use the app to better support her daughter’s learning.


Patrina Copius

Patrina Copius, Mother of Recipient

“She nuh really like normal kids right so she nuh really understand like what you know she nuh undersand what is going on because she is not a hundred percent because she travel with seizure.  Well at least I could teach ah more better and she done use to watch on TV and thing and I watch too but now I wah could mek she learn more better.”


But there are more than forty children at Stella Maris who have communications challenges and need that extra help. That’s why the principal  says the school is thankful that the donation today will bridge some of the teaching and learning gaps in and outside of the classroom for the recipients who  otherwise wouldn’t able to afford the technology.


Karema Arnold

Karema Arnold, Principal, Stella Maris School

“This device will help with teaching and learning. The students who received it today are the ones who are not really verbal – they are non verbal – and so it is means of communicating not only with the teachers at school but also with their parents when they are at home and for them us to better understand how they are thinking and feeling through this device and these programs.”


Andrea Polanco

“I would imagine as well that many of these parents can’t afford a device?”


Karema Arnold

“And that makes it even more touching and appreciative of it because we know the students are receiving it and the parents have challenges with providing these devices and more so the programs that are on these devices for the child to communicate with.”


This donation is the second of its kind. Cellular World says that their donation inspired some generous donors to make the devices and app free of cost for these seven students.


Avril Eiley

Avril Eiley, Sales & Development Manager, Cellular World

“When we did that donation we had some very nice people who came and bought not only one but two and three tablets to give away – just to name them Mr. and Mrs. Jair Cuello from Orange Walk – they donated two and the apps; Mrs. Ardette Jamison she donated three tablets and three and three apps; and Mrs. Chanona from Belmopan she donated two tablets and the app. So, these people really came through for the students here at Stella Maris. We are delighted to be a part of this entire program through our cellular world cares.”


Reporting for News Five, I’m Andrea Polanco.


There are as many as forty-one more children who are in need of the learning devices and so you can contact Cellular World, Belize Autism or Stella Maris at 224-4564 or email them at

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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