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Minister of State for Labour and Social Security, Andrew Gallimore, has called on Jamaicans to fully include persons with disabilities in the productive sector.
He made the call in a speech delivered by Director of Social Security in the MLSS, Colette Roberts Risden at Abilities Day hosted by the Abilities Foundation’s at 191 Constant Spring Road, on Friday (May 30).
“The challenge today is to rally Jamaicans to fully include persons with disabilities in the productive sector in an era of global opportunities and challenges. There is no other way forward toward sustainable development that will benefit and improve their lives,” Mr. Gallimore said.
“As persons who work closely with persons with disabilities, we must firstly be true to ourselves and rid ourselves of our own skepticism and apathy so that we can fully prepare them for their role in the development process,” he said. “As such this preparation must entail a heavy emphasis on education, training and human resource development,” the State Minister continued.
He questioned the way society, in general, views the disabled.
“Do we remain skeptical of the abilities of persons with disabilities in the society forcing them into unemployment and dependency?” he asked, suggesting that all Jamaicans must ensure that the disabled participate fully in society.
In the meantime, the Abilities Foundation has already received support from several entrepreneurs including Roger Chang, Manager of Computer Sales and Service, and Thalia Lyn, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Island Grill.

Director of Social Security in the Ministry of Labour and Social Security,

Colette Roberts Risden (right) and Art and Music Therapist, Vivienne Burnett,

admire ‘Raging Bulls’ a painting done by a student of the Abilities

Foundation. Occasion was the Opening Ceremony marking Abilities Day, at the

Abilities Foundation in Kingston on May 30. Mrs. Risden delivered the

keynote address on behalf of State Minister Andrew Gallimore.

Mrs. Lyn, who is also Chairman of the National Commercial Bank (NCB) Foundation, was invited to officially open the exhibition of woodwork, paintings, clothing, and household items made by the students of the Foundation.
She took the opportunity to inform that the Manor Park branch of Island Grill has already adopted the Abilities Foundation and that the company would be offering a scholarship to a student of the Foundation. She also disclosed that the NCB Foundation would give another scholarship to one more deserving member of the Foundation.
For his part, Mr. Chang has been hiring persons with disabilities and promised to continue doing so, even as he called on other Jamaican firms to follow suit.The Abilities Foundation, which operates under the tag line, Opportunity not Charity, offers skills training, with the aim of providing quality vocational education to persons with disabilities, to enable them to function as creative and productive citizens.
The Foundation gets a subvention from Government and from the HEART Trust/NTA to carry out its mandate. It commenced operations in October 1992 and is a registered voluntary organization operating in collaboration with the Ministry of Labour and Social Security, and the HEART Trust.
The programmes include training in information technology, cabinet making, garment construction, horticulture, and landscaping.
The major objectives of the programme are to: offer market-driven vocational education to persons with disabilities, for the development of marketable skills; and improve employment opportunities by forging links with other national agencies, for further training and job enhancement.
It also seeks to teach young adults with disabilities good work ethics, facilitate their social and emotional re-adjustment to ensure effective integration in the wider society; and establish a vocational resource centre capable of providing technical information and offering practical assistance to persons with disabilities, as well as to potential employers.
The Abilities Foundation also operates a sales outlet for goods made by persons with disabilities.