Christine Staple-Ebanks’s journey into her story started 12 year ago when her son Nathan was diagnosed with cerebral palsy – a major life-altering disability. Told that he might not survive infancy, and given virtually no support post diagnosis, Christine turned to the United States to seek help. Here, her son was, for the first time, given a comprehensive assessment and his first intervention and home management plan… Nathan was 2 ½ years old. What is more, they were offered the precious gift of hope; if Nathan could receive the therapy support he needed there was no reason why he should not go to school and integrate with the other kids. There is no reason he would not be able to thrive and develop.
Returning to Jamaica, this hope soon died. Christine was forced to accept that there was no system in place to make any of this possible. No support at any level of society to integrate and support this special little person. This fuelled her passion and gave birth to her mission: to give children with disabilities in Jamaica, the gift of hope – a chance to live a normal life.
Often referred to as one of Jamaica’s most passionate social entrepreneurs, Christine is a renowned advocate for children with disabilities in Jamaica and her story has mobilized scores of persons from home and abroad to join her cause. This St Andrew High School for Girls Alumnus was recognized as a distinguished 2016 Trailblazer for her work as the Founder of the Nathan Ebanks Foundation, and the first Jamaican parent (of a child with disabilities) to launch, sustain and finance a parent-directed educational programme from grassroots to policy, to enrich and transform the lives of children with disabilities and special needs.
Her achievements include organizing the first national disability awards programme in Jamaica (2012), getting the government to establish a set aside day in May to observe National Child and Adolescent Mental Health Awareness Day (2015), 8 annual special education conferences and two disability Expos (2007-2017); and working with the government to coin the first national statement on disability inclusion, thereby reshaping the language of policy from one of exclusion to inclusion.
Christine has served on various public boards and committees over the years including the National Parenting Support Commission working group, Education and Disability stakeholder groups. In 2010, she was appointed by cabinet to the National Disability Advisory Board (2010-2013).
Always an impassioned communicator, Christine is the self-published author of “Raising Nathan: Every Life has story”, which takes her readers on an intimate journey into her life and gives voice, story, and power to families of children with disabilities in Jamaica.
Christine is married to her best friend Robert for almost 20 years, and they live with their four children in Kingston, Jamaica.