Advertisement
  • JIS News

    Story Highlights

    • The National Youth Service (NYS) will be launching a national public education campaign in 2015, aimed at increasing awareness about persons with disabilities (PWDs), as it seeks to improve service to that group.
    • Chairperson of the NYS, Maureen Webber, said that the campaign is necessary to address the challenges faced by youth in the disabled community.
    • The campaign will be done in partnership with the Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts and will seek to foster integration with PWDs and non-disabled persons.

    The National Youth Service (NYS) will be launching a national public education campaign in 2015, aimed at increasing awareness about persons with disabilities (PWDs), as it seeks to improve service to that group.

    Speaking at a Jamaica Information Service (JIS) ‘Think Tank’ on December 16, Chairperson of the NYS, Maureen Webber, said that the campaign is necessary to address the challenges faced by youth in the disabled community.

    “In our discussions with them, they highlighted that they are sometimes excluded and ridiculed, and people don’t understand them, so we thought about doing a media campaign around this,” she said.

    The campaign will be done in partnership with the Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts and will seek to foster integration with PWDs and non-disabled persons.

    “We will be inviting art students of the performing and visual arts to get an understanding of young persons with disabilities and depict that through an art form. We want to focus on getting the non-disabled to understand the world of the disabled; that connection will allow for some inclusion in the society,” Mrs. Webber said.

    She noted that “students will be awarded, based on output, with grants to attend college.”

    Mrs. Webber said that in order to better understand PWDs, staff at the NYS received special training in communication techniques.

    “Before our team members engaged the community of persons with disabilities, we wanted to ensure that they were sensitised and so we had a one-week workshop for our staff members, where members from the Jamaica Council for Persons with Disabilities taught them how to interact with those persons,” she added.

    Meanwhile, Executive Director of the NYS, Melvin Smith, said that based on his observation, it is not until persons interact with PWDs that the challenges they encounter are realised.

    “We can talk very glibly about engagement and inclusiveness intellectually, but only when you get into the space of PWDs, you recognise how important it is to provide them space for their development to empower them, rather than focusing on their disabilities,” he said.

    In addition to training staff members, job coaches were also trained. “Job coaches were also sensitised because of the specialised needs that they have. We want to ensure that we will understand the organisation in which they are placed. They will also understand their needs and help them navigate the work experience,” Mr. Smith said.

    Under the National Youth Service Act of 1999, a youth is defined as someone between 17 and 24. However, an exception has been made for youth with disabilities to be permitted to the programme up to age 32.

    Skip to content