KINGSTON — The skills of students of the Abilities Foundation in furniture making, horticulture, and agriculture were on display yesterday, at their annual Open Day, held at the institution, in Kingston.
On show were products, such as scotch bonnet peppers and sauces; plants; cushions; pillows; handbags; and furniture, including stools, chairs and dressers. The event was held under the theme: ‘It’s Ability that Counts’.
Speaking at the function, State Minister in the Ministry of Labour and Social Security, Hon. Andrew Gallimore lauded the Foundation for enriching the lives of thousands of Jamaicans with disabilities, by giving them specialised training.
He pointed out that the Abilities Foundation, through a number of training programmes, has also been preparing persons with disabilities to match the skills set required for the job market.
“The attention that is needed specifically to enable persons who have disabilities to be able to carry out tasks in a professional manner, that is the focus of this organisation and it is indeed a very important and noble organisation in Jamaica, as it is a beacon of hope and light,” he said.
Citing initiatives being undertaken, Mr. Gallimore informed that the final touches are being put on the Disabilities Bill to be taken to Parliament, shortly. The legislation is expected to influence how the country addresses matters relating to persons with disabilities.
He said the theme, though simple, is profound and underscores the abilities of the individuals at the school, adding that they can do anything if they work hard.
Mr. Gallimore commended the students for the excellent work they have been doing, which was evident in the products on display. “What I see is top of the line quality products that don’t require any words before or after them, products that can be sold on their own merit, because they are of quality,” he said. The State Minister encouraged the designers of the products to become entrepreneurs.
Meanwhile, Chief Technical Director in the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, Dr. Marc Panton said that the strategy relating to agriculture at the school, is in line with the Ministry’s focus in ensuring food security.
For her part, Managing Director at the Foundation, Susan Hamilton said the strides made by students in the various departments are critical to their development in ensuring that they will become independent.
The Open Day is used annually by the Abilities Foundation to raise awareness about the work of various organisations serving the community of disabled persons.
By CHRIS PATTERSON, JIS Reporter