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Story Highlights

  • Twenty year-old Oshane Nevers, a participant in the National Youth Service (NYS) Empowerment Programme, is proof that suffering from mild intellectual disability is not a hindrance to accomplishing one’s dreams and aspirations.
  • Oshane, who is unable to read at the level of the average individual, and also has some difficulty in expressing himself clearly, took part in personal development training organised by the NYS.
  • He was placed at the Hope Botanical Gardens, in St. Andrew, for the paid internship, where he gained valuable experience.

Twenty year-old Oshane Nevers, a participant in the National Youth Service (NYS) Empowerment Programme, is proof that suffering from mild intellectual disability is not a hindrance to accomplishing one’s dreams and aspirations.

Oshane, who is unable to read at the level of the average individual, and also has some difficulty in expressing himself clearly, took part in personal development training organised by the NYS.

He was placed at the Hope Botanical Gardens, in St. Andrew, for the paid internship, where he gained valuable experience.

“I did transplanting and I did budding. I also sold plants and soil. This wasn’t something totally new to me, but I wanted more experience [from] it. I had experience at UCC (Ueshima] Coffee Farm, measuring and planting coffee,” he tells JIS News in an interview.

Oshane, who is a former student of the Abilities Foundation of Jamaica, participated in the NYS programme after speaking with a teacher, who encouraged him to apply.

More than 80 other persons with disabilities from across the island participated in the Empowerment Programme and were placed in various businesses. They were also paid a stipend.

Oshane, who earned a certificate in landscaping while at the Abilities Foundation of Jamaica,  says he wants to pursue this activity, which requires a person to modify the visible features of any area of land, as a career.

“That is what I want to do. I like pruning plants; I like to dress them up. This looks neat. The last time I went to Cherry Gardens, I saw a man doing it and he came right around the plant with it and it looked good,” Oshane says with a smile.

Since the programme’s conclusion earlier this month, Oshane has been diligently sending out résumés in the hope of finding employment soon. He currently assists his father in  carpentry.

The Empowerment Programme focuses on the skills possessed by members of the disabled community, and places them in an industry or sector matching their competences.

However, it is often challenging to identify the kind of disability possessed by an individual, as very often some of the institutions they attend are unable to classify them.

“When we ask for an evaluation, from institutions, of the types of disability that the young persons have, it is usually very general. We need to take steps to see how best we can classify the type of disability, so that when we’re placing them and when we have them engaged, we understand how to treat with them,” NYS Director of Community Services, Nickeasha Lindsay, tells JIS News.

Launched as a pilot project in 2013, the Empowerment Programme caters to youth with disabilities, who are between 17 and 34 years of age. It was later extended and developed in January 2015. In some instances, business places at which the youth are placed employ them full time after the internship.

Ms. Lindsay says she is currently awaiting an evaluation of the programme, as the cycle of internship begins shortly.