HISTORY

1961
The humble origins of the Hilton Organization stems from an initiative taken by a group of concerned citizens of Suva to cater for the survivors of the poliomyelitis epidemic of 1958 and the increasing number of survivors of meningitis and birth injuries. They formed the Suva Branch of “The Fiji Crippled Children’s Society”, and gave birth to the first special education system in Fiji.

Mr. Len Usher, (President) Mrs. Mavis Israel (Secretary) and Mrs. Nancy Aidney (Treasurer) formed the first Board of Management which organized clinics at the Red Cross Hall for a mixed group of children.

1963
The Society opened its headquarters at the CWM Hospital, the space provided by CWM Hospital was called the Betty Keene Room in honour of Betty Keene who was instrumental in setting up these services. In October the clinic was registered as the first Special School. Mrs Shiu Prasad was appointed to the School by the Ministry of Education as the first teacher of Special Education.

1965
The number on the roll grew to 25 students and Miss Dianne Clark, a special education teacher from Australia was seconded as Head Teacher and remained teaching in Fiji until 1966.

1967
On the 1st of April Mr. Frank Hilton was seconded to the Fiji Education Department as Head Teacher of the Suva Crippled Children’s School, under the Commonwealth Cooperation on Education Scheme.

As awareness regarding the need for services for children with special needs grew the school roll increased to 37 students, but the room for their lessons remained at 20’x 20’.

The students were brought in by a 12 seater bus and were taught by one Head Teacher, an Assistant teacher and three teacher’s aides. The first stage of the present building on Waimanu Road was constructed through a Government grant and a Lions Club Lottery.

1968
The first special education class for children with hearing impairments was set up, starting with only 3 children and by the end of the year there were 26 children enrolled.

A pilot scheme for teaching children with visual impairments was established with Mrs. Hilton as the teacher. Starting with an initial enrollment of 3 the class grew to 6 by the end of the year. This paved the way for the formation of the Fiji Society for the Blind.

1970
The second stage of the building was completed, which consisted of specially equipped rooms for teaching children with hearing impairments, a sheltered workshop and a physiotherapy department. As the number of children grew a temporary hostel was set up in Raiwai in a Housing Authority house.

1972
The present 20 bed Hostel was completed, this catered to children from all around Fiji who benefited from the many services offered by the Suva Branch of the Fiji Crippled Children’s Society.

1973
A total of 123 students were registered with the school who were receiving Special Education and related services.

1985
The Early Intervention Centre on Brown Street was set up. The objective of the Early Intervention Programme was to provide services for children born with disabilities and/or developmental delays and to also offer support and parent training to families and caregivers.