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  • Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Portia Simpson Miller, says the passage of the Disabilities Act 2014, is a milestone legislation and a necessary step in the right direction in addressing the social injustice faced by persons living with disabilities.
  • The service was held at the Calvary Baptist Church in Montego Bay, on November 30, under the theme: ‘Opening the doors to inclusion and development’.
  • The Prime Minister said that any serious effort to address these lingering challenges and break the cycle of ignorance and create a society in which the disabled not only feel integral, but are able to enjoy independent living, must therefore embrace measures of great social awareness, appropriate legislation, education and increased tolerance.

Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Portia Simpson Miller, says the passage of the Disabilities Act 2014, is a  milestone legislation and a necessary step in the right direction in addressing the social injustice faced by persons living with disabilities.

“One of the remaining aspects of social injustice, which is perhaps not as published as it ought to, is our collective failure to fully embrace the disabled community,” Mrs. Simpson Miller  said,  in a  message read by Minister of Agriculture, Labour and Social Security, Hon. Derrick Kellier, at a church service to mark the start of Disability Awareness Week.

The service was held at the Calvary Baptist Church in Montego Bay, on November 30, under the theme: ‘Opening the doors to inclusion and development’.

“It is unfortunate that in some instances, persons with disabilities are still looked at, spoken to, locked away and otherwise treated in a generally negative manner by both family members and the wider society,” Mrs. Simpson Miller noted.

The Prime Minister said that any serious effort to address these lingering challenges and break the cycle of ignorance and create a society in which the disabled not only feel integral, but are able to enjoy independent living, must therefore embrace measures of great social awareness, appropriate legislation, education and increased tolerance.

She pointed to recent advances in this direction with the passage of the Disabilities Act 2014, which she described as a “milestone legislation (and) a necessary step in the right direction.”

On the economic front, Mrs. Simpson Miller said the Government is continuing its support of enterprise endeavours for persons with disabilities through the Economic Empowerment Grant, which has over the past 10 years allocated $10 million annually to encourage the establishment of micro businesses in the areas of farming, construction, vending, food and grocery shops, fishing, wicker craft, furniture and garment manufacturing.

Additionally, $45 million has been provided by government to assist with the acquisition of assistive aids, such as hearing aids, prostheses, special eye-glasses and computers to members of the disabled community

“At the same time, through grant support from the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), the Jamaica Council for Persons with Disabilities (JCPD) has been able to develop a comprehensive and confidential islandwide registry of persons with disabilities. This will ensure that an accurate data base exists of the population of persons with disabilities,” Mrs. Simpson Miller said.

The Prime Minister commended members of the disabled community and the JCPD, for the leadership, interest and persistent advocacy, without which Jamaica may not yet have reached this victory stage with the passage of the Disabilities Act 2014, after a decade in the making.

In his message, Governor General, His Excellency the Most Hon. Sir Patrick Allen, said physically challenged persons have proven their capability to contribute positively to the achievement of national goals and objects.

“We have witnessed their resilience and passion for highest achievement through spirited performance in sports, athletics, academics and public service. I commend the JCPD for encouraging this empowering spirit among the disabled. You are thereby cultivating confident and purpose driven people who believe in their God-given potential for self actualization and to make their contribution to our society,” he said in a message read by Custos of St. James, Hon. Ewen Corrodus.

Among the activities for the week is a series of Regional Stakeholder Consultations on the Codes and Regulations for the disabled community, to be held at the Rex Nettleford Hall, University of the West Indies (UWI), Mona Campus, at 10:00 a.m. on Wednesday, December 3, and at the Golf View Hotel in Mandeville on Thursday, December 4, starting at 9:00am.

The week will culminate with a Blind Cricket Match and Grand Concert on Saturday, December 6, at the Ultimate Cricket Ground in Discovery Bay, St. Ann starting at 11:00 a.m.

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