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The Jamaica Information Service (JIS) is the recipient of the Positive Images in the Media Award, presented by the Jamaica Council for Persons with Disabilities (JCPD), for the agency’s positive representation of disabled persons.      

The award was presented at the Inaugural Disability Friendly Awards Gala and Dinner held on Monday (November 19) at the Wyndham Kingston Hotel.  The agency was honoured for “demonstrating extraordinary commitment to promoting the elimination of stereotypes by portraying persons with disabilities and their lives accurately with recognition of the complexities of being human”.

Chief Executive Officer of the JIS, Donna-Marie Rowe, said the agency has committed to assisting the disabled community over the years and so is proud of the achievement.

“We've been very consistent in ensuring that all our stakeholders, and that includes those persons who have to live with some form of disability, that they understand and know how to access the services of Government as well as to ensure that they know about the initiatives that are available to benefit persons with disabilities and so we’re very pleased for this recognition,” Mrs. Rowe said.

The citation presented to the agency noted that “for the last fifty years, its sensitive, well researched and detailed coverage of stories that most affect persons with disabilities has played a pivotal role in enlightening and uplifting people throughout the society”.

It further stated that the JIS’ relationship with influential groups such as the JCPD, the Abilities Foundation and the Jamaica Association for Intellectual Disabilities, is ongoing and reciprocal.

The JIS was among eight other outstanding awardees on the night for service to the disabled community.

Senator the Hon. Floyd Morris copped the night’s highest honour, the Prime Minister Award for Excellence in Disability Reform, in recognition of his significant work in influencing the disability reform agenda.

The Senator, who accepted the award from Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Portia Simpson Miller, is credited for using his position as the country’s first blind Senator, to drive policies and initiatives at many levels locally and internationally.

These include amendments to the Road traffic Regulations in 2005, which paved the way for deaf persons to drive on Jamaican roads; institution of the Margaret Moodie Scholarship for tertiary education; and initiatives to increase accessibility for the disabled at airports, schools and other public places.

Another outstanding awardee was the Very Rev. Monsignor Gregory Ramkissoon, who received the Minister of Labour and Social Security Lifetime Achievement Award for his unending commitment to serving persons with disabilities and the most vulnerable in society, through his Mustard Seed Communities. The charity, founded in 1978, serves abandoned children with disabilities and orphaned children living with HIV/AIDS in the Caribbean and Central America. It now has 15 local centres that aid the elderly, teenage and unwed mothers, and the disposed.

The Faith D. Innerarity Accessibility Award, named in honour of the late outstanding civil servant, went to the Ministry of Health, for ensuring that its products and services are accessible to persons with disability.

The Distinguished Parenting Award went to Greer-Ann Saulter for her outstanding dedication to her child Astro, and for making a difference in his life. Astro, who is 34, has severe cerebral palsy, leaving him unable to speak, stand or use his hands. He, however, has control of his head, which he has leant to manipulate to create wonderful works of art, some of which were on display at the gala.

Other awardees were: Supreme Venture Limited, which copped the Disability Friendly Business Award; Wyndham Kingston Hotel received the Disability Friendly Hotel Award; Liberty Academy at the Priory, which received  the Excellence in Special Education Award for its demonstrated commitment to educate, and/advocate for children with disabilities and their families; while the Vision 2030 Jamaica Award went to Community-Based Rehabilitation Jamaica, for its role in serving persons with disabilities.

The awards gala was held in collaboration with the Consul General of Jamaica in  Toronto.