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  • Jamaicans are being urged to extend kindness and show respect to persons with disabilities or health challenges.
  • The appeal came from the Minister of Youth and Culture, Hon. Lisa Hanna, during her ‘Pon di Corna’ rap session with Corporate Area students on Friday, March 20, at the Half-Way-Tree Transportation Centre in Kingston.
  • Minister Hanna told the gathering that the Ministry had received reports that children with disabilities are being abused while waiting at the Transportation Centre.

Jamaicans are being urged to extend kindness and show respect to persons with disabilities or health challenges.

The appeal came from the Minister of Youth and Culture, Hon. Lisa Hanna, during her ‘Pon di Corna’ rap session with Corporate Area students on Friday, March 20, at the Half-Way-Tree Transportation Centre in Kingston.

Minister Hanna told the gathering that the Ministry had received reports that children with disabilities are being abused while waiting at the Transportation Centre. The Government provides special buses for children with disabilities, which take them to and from school.

“We have got reports that people spit on them, people take their money, and people do all kinds of things to children, who act differently from how some of you might act. That is a form of child abuse,” she said.

Minister Hanna urged the students to speak out against the abuse of children by reporting such acts of ill-treatment to the Office of the Children’s Registry, the Child Development Agency or security officers at the Transportation Centre.

“I am asking you first and foremost to love all children, rather than to do something to bully children, especially those with special needs or disabilities; try and help them,” she urged.

Principal of Genesis Academy, which accommodates children with disabilities, Donna Lowe, said the abuse of children with disabilities can cause them emotional harm.

“The children feel pain, the children are hurt based on how you treat them, so when they come into the centre and people are spitting on them, people are taking away their money, or beating them up, that is bullying,” she said.

She urged the students to be kind to each other and to understand that “the person being ill-treated could be your brother or sister.”

“I need you to look out for them, help them, you start the change; don’t wait on somebody else. You be that person, who shows kindness and let others follow you,” she said.

She pointed out that even though some of the children with disabilities may appear to be 16 years old, “they are actually functioning like a five-year old child and so they are very vulnerable and people will take advantage of them, which is what is happening.”

The ‘Pon di Corna’ session, organised by the Ministry of Youth and Culture, also included students from Genesis Academy and the Abilities Foundation of Jamaica.