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benefitting children in Saint Lucia through education (CDS)

Location: Saint Lucia
Project type: child development support
Price from: £1248.00 - details below

This project works with local staff and children in one of Saint Lucia's special schools, helping to foster a sense of achievement for children who have developmental disabilities.

Skills required

We work closely with the local people who manage this project, and they have identified their primary volunteer needs.

A large variety of abilities and skills will be welcomed by the Principal and staff of this school. The following skills are needed to support these dedicated staff in their work with the children of this special school:
  • educational or clinical psychologists, occupational and physical therapists and counsellors
  • special needs teachers, particularly those experienced in working with pupils on the autistic spectrum and pupils with a wide range of moderate learning difficulties
  • teaching assistants or those able to offer one-to-one help to children in the classroom
  • teachers able to offer professional development to local staff in relevant areas
  • physical education teachers
  • specialists in classroom management techniques, particularly behaviour management
  • life skills practitioners
  • youth workers

Main project details

There are a number of initiatives in Saint Lucia that have been established to support young people who, for one reason or another require some form of support or rehabilitation to enable them to successfully contribute to society.  All the initiatives supported by our volunteer programme are either run or supported by Sacred Sports Foundation (SSF), an NGO dedicated to social development for Caribbean youth using sport as a catalyst for change in disadvantaged and troubled communities.  The Foundation tackles critical social issues of unemployment, child welfare, crime and violence prevention, conflict resolution and health and youth development, fostering increased community participation in socially inclusive physical activity alongside efforts to promote gender awareness and alleviating discrimination of all kinds.  Over the past 10 years Sacred Sports Foundation has delivered a range of after school programmes to well over 3,000 people, targeting at-risk youth, persons with disabilities, juvenile delinquents and young adolescent girls in typically poor and under-served communities. They have trained some 426 coaches in basic youth development, child safeguarding and special needs participatory programmes.  SSF operates intiatives including the Caribbean's largest child safeguarding programme in sport and a comprehensive unemployed youth and coach training programme.

Volunteers will work under the SSF 'umbrella' either on their own programmes or with one of the organisations their training programmes support.  As a volunteer in this programme, you will be matched to one or more organisations and locations, depending on where your particular skills and experience can best be used.

One organisation supported by SSF is Lady Gordon Opportunities Centre, which serves children from 5 to 16 years of age who have special educational needs.  The SSF programme here is 'Ability Counts', which aims to encourage young people with developmental disabilities to become active, to learn to live healthy lives, and to celebrate their abilities rather than their disabilities. 

The Centre provides for children with a wide range of issues including those with physical, behavioural and developmental difficulties.  These are usually children who have been referred by the Ministry of Education Special Education Unit as struggling in mainstream schools or who have been assessed by the Child Development and Guidance Centre as requiring specialist placement.  Most children with learning difficulties have been assessed at an attainment level 2 to 3 groups below their peers.  Children with physical disabilities may include those with visual and/or hearing impairment, autism, or a variety of moderate physical and developmental difficulties; children with more severe disabilities go to a different school on the island.

The Centre, led by its Principal, works largely through developing and implementing individualised education plans and regular monitoring of pupil progress.  Their aim is to provide the pupils with an educational opportunity designed to cater for their individual learning needs and which facilitates their academic, social, physical, creative and spiritual development.  Their objectives are to provide pupils with literacy and numeracy skills, to help them develop the life skills necessary to become independent individuals, and to foster an awareness of self-worth and positive self-esteem.
Lady Gordon Opportunities Centre is community-based and is one of four special schools on the island.  It is situated in Ciceron, near Castries, Saint Lucia's capital.

To learn more about how the volunteer programme works with this project read more here.


St. Lucia is sold as a Sun, Sea and Sand paradise destination enjoyed by many. However the reality is that a significant portion of the population does not benefit from the tourist dollar, so facilities such as schools are often under-resourced.
Teachers have had little professional training in working with pupils with special educational needs, including physical disabilities, teaching slow learners, behaviour management and teaching children with conditions such as dyslexia.  Currently SEN is an option on the teacher training course offered in Saint Lucia, but it is not a compulsory unit, and teachers wishing to specialise in SEN usually go to Jamaica for training.
As a responsible volunteer in this project, you will be able to make a real difference to these young people and to the dedicated teachers working with them.

'There was no one highlight but a number of special moments.  Getting to know the pupils who every day greeted me with hugs and friendly chatter and always welcomed me into their classes; seeing individual pupil's joy at being able to achieve something no matter how small; the warm farewell assembly that was given for me was very special.' 
Volunteer, Val
Volunteer opportunities in the education of young people in this project - whether you are a professional teacher or classroom assistant, retired or in work and looking for a career break, you can share your skills and experience with local teaching staff in this education development project. Other skills and experience will also be welcome - take a look at the list of needs, as identified by the project, near the top of this page. You can play your part in responsible volunteer work overseas.

Minimum duration

Minimum 4 weeks. Some specialist skills can be used for shorter durations at certain times of the year - please ask.

Living Conditions

Depending on the programme designed for you, you will live in a self catering apartment in one of three locations - close to the beach and tourist amenities in Rodney Bay, in the picturesque little seaside town of Soufriere, or in Vieux Fort close to the airport. You will have your own large and airy room with plenty of storage space and work space and a private shower room.  You can choose to self cater or dine in one of the many local eateries. 

Local small hotel accommodation can be arranged at additional cost.

Project costs

from £1248 for 4 weeks based self catering in a 2 bedroom apartment sharing with one other volunteer -  private bedroom

NB single apartments are available at an additional $400 per month

(accommodation in a local small hotel can be arranged at an additional cost) 
Read about our costs and pricing policy here 
watch an explanatory interview with programme director Sallie Grayson
Additional weeks  are costed at a sliding reducing rate.  Please ask for details
Please note - these costs are correct to the best of our knowledge but can only be confirmed at time of booking, due to changes in transport and taxes outside our control.
N.B. Costs will be charged in dollars (except people and places fee) the sterling conversion is based on $1.65 to £sterling
Included: Self catering accomodation, airport transfers, full local orientation, social event, local SIM card, project & placement liaison
Your project contribution will be used for the purchase of essential equipment for the project.
How your money is spent based on 4 weeks:
$975 (£591) - direct costs in Saint Lucia (airport transfers, accommodation, orientation, information packs, SIM card)
$455 (£276) - project management, liaison & supervision in Saint Lucia
$200 (£121) - project contribution in Saint Lucia
£260 GBP - recruitment, matching & project development in UK
Not included: flights, insurance, visa costs, daily travel to project (local bus fares are approx 7 USD per day), personal expenses such as phone calls, medical expenses, etc.
If you or your friends and family wish to make further donations to this project please contact us at

Recommended reading

Check out slideshare   youtube  our blog  facebook for volunteer interviews & project news

A good general guide to the country's history, culture and environment from The Travel Foundation

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