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Story Highlights

  • Minister of Youth and Culture, the Hon. Lisa Hanna says her Ministry and its agencies were doing more to reach, accommodate and include people with disabilities.
  • Minister Hanna was speaking at the Jamaica launch of UNICEF’s State of the World’s Children report 2013 which focuses on children with disabilities.
  • People with disabilities had been especially selected for membership of the Prime Minister’s Youth Awards and National Youth Month committees.

The Minister of Youth and Culture, the Hon. Lisa Hanna says her Ministry and its agencies were doing more to reach, accommodate and include people with disabilities – particularly children and youth.

Minister Hanna was speaking on Wednesday, December 4, at the Jamaica launch of UNICEF’s State of the World’s Children report 2013 which focuses on children with disabilities. The report was launched as part of activities for Disabilities Week.

Miss Hanna said special arrangements had been made to include children and youth with disabilities in training and employment initiatives:

“In our programmes for the National Youth Service, we have reserved 10 per cent of the spaces for children and youth with disabilities. All programmes – training, employment and internship – will ensure that our children with disabilities have access.”

Minister Hanna also announced that people with disabilities had been especially selected for membership of the Prime Minister’s Youth Awards and National Youth Month committees.  She said that for this year’s Prime Minister’s awards, a concerted effort is being made “to ensure that we have one awardee, at least, who has a disability and who has overcome great challenges to make their mark both in Jamaica and internationally.”

Additionally, youth with disabilities are being consulted in the review of the National Youth Policy, which will be produced in braille.

“We must do more to truly include children and youth people with disabilities.

We must listen to them more.  I am directing my ministry and agencies to reset our communication to ensure that we are accessible to children and our youth and our people who have disabilities in the format that they require.  In consulting we realise that sometimes we take for granted young people who can’t hear and young people who can’t see.”

Minister Hanna said children and youth with disabilities needed to be given a fair chance to make their contribution.  She said the main obstacle facing them were “the attitude of other members of the community — and the stigma, discrimination and violence that old notions and attitudes create.”

Reflecting on the statistic in the 2013 State of the World’s Children report that ‘children with disabilities were at a significantly greater risk of experiencing violence than peers without disabilities: 3.7 times more likely for combined measures of violence, 3.6 times more likely for physical violence and 2.9 times more likely for sexual violence,’ Minister Hanna urged Jamaicans to re-commit to providing safe environments for all our children to grow, develop and realise their human potential.

Minister Hanna said:

“Children with disabilities are not to be pitied.  They are not to be used.  They are not to be feared.

“Children with disabilities are not made out of glass.  They can play with other children and they can explore their environment.  Don’t put them in a bubble.

“Children with disabilities have hopes, dreams and desires; and it is our duty as adults, as caregivers, as leaders to help them to become the best that they can be.”

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