JCPD Partners with UNICEF and Digicel Foundation to Help PWDs

Photo: Donald De La Haye United Nation Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Representative in Jamaica, Mark Connolly (second left) in discussion with (from left) Chief Technical Director at the Ministry United Nation Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Representative in Jamaica, Mark Connolly (second left) in discussion with (from left) Chief Technical Director at the Ministry of Labour and Social Security, Dione Jennings; Chief Executive Officer of Digicel Foundation, Dane Richardson, and Executive Director of the Jamaica Council for Persons with Disabilities (JCPD), Christine Hendricks, after the announcement of a $58-million partnership to strengthen the inclusion of persons with disabilities, with an emphasis on children, at the UNICEF Jamaica office, in New Kingston, on June 13.

Story Highlights

  • The Jamaica Council for Persons with Disabilities (JCPD), the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and Digicel Foundation will partner to strengthen the inclusion of persons with disabilities (PWDs), particularly children.
  • The two-year $58-million partnership will bolster registration of children with disabilities to improve access to social services from the JCPD; support efforts geared towards the full implementation of the
  • Chief Executive Officer of Digicel Foundation, Dane Richardson, said that major emphasis will be placed on using the systems that already exist in the country’s legal framework and policies to positively impact the lives of PWDs.

The Jamaica Council for Persons with Disabilities (JCPD), the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and Digicel Foundation will partner to strengthen the inclusion of persons with disabilities (PWDs), particularly children.

The two-year $58-million partnership will bolster registration of children with disabilities to improve access to social services from the JCPD; support efforts geared towards the full implementation of the

Disabilities Act, 2014; coordinate and execute a media campaign on the rights of PWDs; and conduct research on barriers to access education and skills training.

Representative, UNICEF Jamaica, Mark Connolly, said the organisation is pleased to join the efforts to do more in providing opportunities for children with disabilities.

“For UNICEF, this is an opportunity with Digicel Foundation and our partners to step up and say we need to do more, we need to know more and, specifically, we have to get the numbers right on how children are excluded and what is excluding them… so we can match it with investments and efforts to give them more opportunities,” he said, at the UNICEF office in New Kingston, on June 13.

Chief Executive Officer of Digicel Foundation, Dane Richardson, said that major emphasis will be placed on using the systems that already exist in the country’s legal framework and policies to positively impact the lives of PWDs.

“There are opportunities that are low-hanging that we want to see how we can benefit from them, such as present systems or mechanisms that the Government already has in place that need to be inclusive so PWDs can benefit from them,” he said.

He also noted that special attention will be placed on the registration of PWDs with the JCPD, as this will help to inform planning for such persons.

“STATIN has a figure of approximately 580,000 persons in the country who are disabled, and, unfortunately only about 30,000 persons are registered with the JCPD and 5,000 of that are children. [This] is a huge gap, and if we do not know who these persons are, then we cannot inform policies and our budget,” Mr. Richardson said.

Meanwhile, Chief Technical Director in the Ministry of Labour and Social Security, Dione Jennings, said the partnership is an opportunity for the partners to synergise their efforts and positively impact the lives of PWDs.

“It is very important in terms of how we look at improving the quality of lives for persons with disabilities. Once these persons have information, they are empowered. We are creating this enabling space for them so they can have access, and if children learn early and get an appreciation for how they can develop and improve and realise their own rights and fulfil their potential, then this augurs well for our society,” she noted.

For her part, Executive Director, JCPD, Christine Hendricks, said the partnership is another step in the right direction for Jamaica and its inclusive agenda, and encouraged other corporate entities to join the movement.

“Persons are recognising that PWDs have value and they can make a contribution. If we start with them from childhood, it will give them a better start to move forward; and so, this partnership is something that I am excited about. We look forward to others like Digicel Foundation joining the game and playing their part, too, so that they will allow the nation’s children to take shape so that Jamaica can realise Vision 2030,” she said.

Last year, Minister of Labour and Social Security, Hon. Shahine Robinson, announced the formation of Jamaica Empowerment Partners for Persons with Disabilities (JEPP).

The group will focus on the priority goals for the sector, namely, access to information, access to support services, access to essential services, and employment and workforce integration.

Jamaica is the first country in the world to sign the Convention on the Rights of PWDs.

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