More Jamaicans Accepting Persons With Disabilities

Photo: JIS Photographer Executive Director of the Jamaica Council for Persons with Disabilities, Christine Hendricks.

Story Highlights

  • More Jamaicans are accepting persons with disabilities (PWDs), as the agency charged with promoting equal opportunities among the able-bodied and disabled has been educating members of the public on the importance of inclusion.
  • Executive Director of the Jamaica Council for Persons with Disabilities (JCPD), Christine Hendricks, says that with the passage of the Disabilities Act in 2014, there has been an increase in the number of persons expressing interest in engaging members of the disabled community.
  • Mrs. Hendricks was speaking to JIS News, ahead of this year’s Disabilities Awareness Week, which will be observed from November 29 to December 4.

More Jamaicans are accepting persons with disabilities (PWDs), as the agency charged with promoting equal opportunities among the able-bodied and disabled has been educating members of the public on the importance of inclusion.

Executive Director of the Jamaica Council for Persons with Disabilities (JCPD), Christine Hendricks, says that with the passage of the Disabilities Act in 2014, there has been an increase in the number of persons expressing interest in engaging members of the disabled community.

“I have noticed that the work of the sector has been making some inroads. You hear of more persons wanting to include disabilities in their policies and direction as agencies, whether Government or private sector,” she said.

Mrs. Hendricks was speaking to JIS News, ahead of this year’s Disabilities Awareness Week, which will be observed from November 29 to December 4.

Themed: ‘Inclusion Matters: Access and Empowerment of All People of All Abilities’, the week will include activities from various groups of the disabled community.

Mrs. Hendricks noted that the theme, which is also the United Nations international theme, focuses on the abilities of all people.

“This year, they are looking at access and empowerment of people. We are not just picking out persons with disabilities …but saying that persons with disabilities have abilities. We should focus on the abilities for inclusion,” she emphasised.

Prior to the start of the special week of observance, there will be a National Deaf Sports Day on November 27 and 28 at the UWI Mona Bowl, under the theme: ‘Empowering through Sports’.

On November 30, the Jamaica Association for the Deaf (JAD) will host a by invitation only workshop on communication access for the deaf, with representatives from the criminal justice system.  This will be held at the Management Institute for National Development (MIND).

Disabilities Awareness Week will officially begin with a national church service on Sunday, November 29 at the Ocho Rios Baptist Church, in St. Ann.  On the same day, the Early Stimulation Programme (ESP) will also celebrate its 40th anniversary with another church service at the Wildman Street Pentecostal Tabernacle in Kingston. Both services will begin at 9:00 a.m.

On Monday, November 30,  JCPD will host a health and wellness fair at the Turtle River Park in Ocho Rios, St. Ann, under the theme: ‘Healthy People, Healthy Society: Wellness and Well-being for All’.

The ESP will host an open day at its Stimulation Centre at 1A Ostend Avenue in Kingston on Tuesday, December 1, while on Wednesday, the Special Education Unit of the Ministry of Education will host a symposium themed: ‘Protecting Children with Disabilities against Abuse: Their Rights and Dignity Matter’, at the Caenwood Auditorium commencing at 9:00 a.m. The ESP will also host its Parents Recognition and Awards Ceremony on that day.

On Thursday, December 3, International Day for Persons with Disabilities, there will be a public forum themed: ‘Empowerment for Inclusion’,  at the Emancipation Park, in New Kingston,  commencing at 11:00 a.m., with the aim of preparing PWDs for their role in an inclusive society as well as give them the tools needed to advocate for their rights.

“The Disabilities Act has been passed, soon to be enacted, and we have been preparing society to include PWDs. However, we also need to prepare PWDs for the new Jamaica that will emerge in the months and years to come and so we want to give them some information and encouragement,” said Mrs. Hendricks.

In association with the University of Technology, the JAD will host another public forum at the Lister Mair Gilby School for the Deaf in Kingston, December 3, on the use of technology in deaf education.

The week of activities will end on Friday, December 4, with a dance workshop for coaches of deaf students, in preparation for deaf students entering the 2016 Jamaica Cultural Development Commission (JCDC) festival competition. On the same day, the ESP will also treat the students at its Hanover Street location in Kingston.

In the meantime, the JCPD will celebrate its 41st anniversary by hosting a staff awards ceremony on Monday, December 7, to recognise persons who have given long service and made significant contributions to the sector.

The JCPD was formed in 1973 and assists persons with disabilities with skills training and income-generating self-help projects as well as developing educational programmes to promote awareness of issues affecting persons with disabilities.

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