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  • Persons with disabilities are being encouraged to partner with the Government to ensure their freedom of choice, control over their lives and to realise their full potential.
  • State Minister Ffolkes Abrahams said persons with disabilities are more likely to be unemployed and to experience extreme deprivation than any other social group.
  • Mrs. Ffolkes Abrahams noted that in many cases, discrimination against persons with disabilities is taken for granted and occurs at various levels of the society and with impunity.

Persons with disabilities are being encouraged to partner with the Government to ensure their freedom of choice, control over their lives and to realise their full potential.

Minister of State in the Ministry of Industry, Investment and Commerce, Hon. Sharon Ffolkes Abrahams, in addressing the launch of the Cornwall Combined Disabilities Association in Montego Bay on August 14 , said persons with disabilities are more likely to be unemployed and to experience extreme deprivation than any other social group.

“The launch of  this association is a significant move….(that will) enable you not only to better address issues that are of particular interest to you, but will also put you in a position to better influence policy, ” Mrs. Ffolkes Abrahams told members of the new organisation.

The State Minister said she was pleased with the recent passage of the Disability Act of 2014, “that will ensure that every person with a disability is treated with equality and with equity and with the same opportunities as anyone else in our society.”

Mrs. Ffolkes Abrahams noted that in many cases, discrimination against persons with disabilities is taken for granted and occurs at various levels of the society and with impunity.

“We are moving to make this a thing of the past. One of the provisions of the Disability Act therefore is the prohibition of discrimination and removal of barriers in education and training, employment, political office and public life, health care, housing and transportation,” she stated.

She lauded the efforts of Senate President, Floyd Morris and Minister of Labour and Social Security, Hon Derrick Kellier, in the passage of the Disability Act, which she said is creating an enabling environment in which persons with disabilities can integrate into, and participate in all aspects of society.

She called on public and private sector organisations to actively facilitate the changes that the Disability Act is seeking to create, such as redesigning buildings to facilitate ease of access and usage to persons with disabilities.

Meanwhile, Mayor of Montego Bay, Councillor Glendon Harris, said the association will fill the void for a combined voice for persons with disabilities.

He pointed out that the St James Parish Council is taking steps to make the streets of Montego Bay friendlier to disabled persons.

The Mayor said he undertook a five-mile tour of the streets on foot to get firsthand knowledge of the state of sidewalks spanning Montego Bay Freeport, through the Hip Strip and Barnett Street to Westgreen. He noted that his findings will result in the reconstruction and redesigning of sideways throughout the city to ensure safe usage by all, including the disabled.

He urged the organisation to provide opportunities for interaction and socialising among its members, as disabled persons are often segregated systemically or by societal ignorance and become lonely as a result.

“Your interaction and care for each other is important. You have to give each other hope, and ensure that that hope brings each to a level of physical and mental comfort. Be your brother’s keeper,” the Mayor urged.

Giving an overview of the organisation, President, Gausia Burchell, said its birth came from the great need for representation for the community of disabled persons residing, working and studying in the county of Cornwall.

He pointed out that chief among the issues affecting persons living in “the complex world of disabilities are poverty, inequality, unemployment, poor access to mobility, education and healthcare.”

The Cornwall Combined Disabilities Association (CCDA) has  among its objectives: to unite the efforts of all organisations serving the community of disabled persons in the parishes of  Trelawny, St. James, Hanover, Westmoreland and St. Elizabeth; to make representation and influence policy affecting persons with disabilities; to promote the dignity and autonomy of disabled persons; to promote the acceptance, active participation and inclusion of disabled persons in society; and to give oversight to the provisions of government legislation that affect disabled persons.

The CCDA’s Executive is completed with First Vice President, Robert Blake; Second Vice President, Oral Smallwood; Treasurer, Andrew East; Secretary, Trudi-Ann Smith, and Field Officer, Cordilia Cunningham.