KINGSTON — The Ministry of Labour and Social Security (MLSS) is intensifying efforts to improve the lives of youths with disabilities, through a $49 million Technical Co-operation Project, funded by a grant from the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB).
Speaking with JIS News prior to the beginning of a workshop on Behaviour Modification and Prevention of Childhood Disabilities, Project Coordinator, Ian Carrington, disclosed that while some 12,000 individuals are registered with the Jamaica Council with Disabilities, the World Health Organization (WHO) estimates one in ten disability, worldwide. So, with a population of 2.7 million, Jamaica should have about 270,000 persons with varying degrees of disability.
Mr. Carrington explained that, in order to increase participation in the programme, a register of disabled individuals will be maintained, while a national drive will be undertaken to account for all disabled individuals and ensure their access to appropriate intervention. This is a major element of the IDB project and will be undertaken in 2012.
Other components of the project include increased public education, improved targeting of persons with disabilities, strengthening of the early stimulation programme and institutional strengthening.
Rationalizing the need for registration to the formulation of policy, the Project Coordinator explained that it was critical to know how many clients there are, where they are, the nature of their disability and what their needs are.
"So that we can move forward, and drive policy with respect to building more special schools, having specialized access to health facilities… and basically to promote inclusion in society,” she added.
With respect to the component to strengthen the Early Stimulation Programme (ESP) of the Ministry, Antonica Gunter Gayle, Director of the programme, welcomed IDB support as a significant boost, particularly because of its efficacy in satisfying the needs of the disabled, but more so because of the many success stories resulting from its targeted interventions.
“We know that they can be taught. We know that they can learn and we want them to be a part of society and we have seen so many success stories…some students have entered some of the best high schools and have done well,” she emphasized.
ESP fosters the development of children, from birth to six years old, with varying degrees of disabilities, including cerebral palsy, Down’s syndrome, autism and other physical and mental challenges.
Other components of the Project include public education, improved targeting of persons with disabilities, strengthening of the early stimulation programme and institutional strengthening.
The Behaviour Modification and Prevention of Childhood Disabilities workshop, which got underway at the Mona Visitors Lodge on the UWI Campus Friday morning (November 18), attracted over 150 parents, and was designed to give parents the support, training and confidence to enable them to meet the developing needs of their children, among other things.
By Allan Brooks, JIS Senior Reporter