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Laurel Matthews, a visually impaired student at the Abilities Foundation, is imploring parents of children with disabilities to take the time out to encourage and nurture them with positive thoughts, so that they can develop a sense of worth and independence.
Speaking at a JIS ‘Think Tank’ Session yesterday (December 4), Ms. Matthews said “I would love to use this opportunity to appeal to parents and caregivers of persons with disabilities to give them a sense of belonging, a sense of acceptance by allowing them to do little chores around the house. Encourage that level of contribution”.
This attitude she noted will allow them to be more independent and open to society.
“At school what I realise is that a number of students tend to sit back waiting for persons to do everything for them and this I believe is coming from the home.where they are not allowed to do anything because of the thinking that they can’t,” she opined.
She further emphasised her appeal to parents, stating “I am asking parents and even neighbours who have to interact with them not to sideline them. Get them involved in conversations and let them work with you on different chores because how you relate to them will determine how they relate to others in society”.
Continuing, she lamented the fact that “too many of my friends are withdrawn and sit in the background not saying anything because they feel they do not have any opinion”.
According to the former Ministry of Finance accountant, the lack of appreciation towards persons with disabilities is a global issue but the change must first start in the home. “My desire is to have myself prepared so I can help to take on some of the challenges, to get the awareness out that our society needs to be able to live with us in this global community. It is an international problem but the family must play their part, neighbours, friends, and classmates too,” she stated.
Drawing on her own experience, Ms. Matthews added that she is determined in her drive to remove some of the barriers in society towards persons with disabilities.
She recounts losing her sight after 17 years at a particular job, and having to stay home for a number of years. “But then I was not comfortable so I decided to upgrade myself.although it was a challenge to get to where I am now, I was determined and I am going to make use of this opportunity to help those who are out there and to educate the society to understand us…and I will contribute to this change and it’s a goal I have for the rest of my life,” she asserted, adding that “we have obstacles but we are not looking for charity, we are looking for understanding, acceptance and appreciation”.