Meet Earl Broad… wheelchair user, Traveler!
First time visitor to Barbados Earl Broad, is a wheelchair user who wanted to escape the bitter cold of the U.K. He decided to take a trip to the Caribbean and sought the advice of his Travel Agent who suggested he stay at the Hilton in Barbados as this was the only island of the three Earl had in mind where he could possibly enjoy an accessible vacation. Excited about his upcoming trip, Earl decided to do more research so he could plan his stay! He was delighted to discover the Fully Accessible Barbados website and even more so when he saw our beach wheelchair! Right away he sent us an email requesting details and booked it for three days in advance. Once he arrived he loved the experience so much he booked the chair for another two days because as he said “I live close to sea and I would love to have something like this so I can get into the water where I live, so this is a great experience for me.” On hearing this, we asked if we could meet Earl to learn about his experience using the chair. During this chat we got further insight into his overall view of his vacation and the island. “I love the sunshine” Earl told us. We could tell, he was lightly sunburned from head to toe. “I actually prefer to go into the sea only when the sun is shining full blast”, continued Earl. Earl was here with his caretaker John Butterworth who told us “we’re having a great time, we visited Bathsheba, St. Nicholas Abbey, we took in some Cricket at the Oval, there were three other persons in wheel -chairs there which we thought was great, of course the beach is lovely, we’ve walked into Bridgetown to do some shopping and that was an adventure as Earl had to drive his automated wheel chair in the road since the sidewalks are non existent.” Earl added “At first it was a bit scary as I was literally driving in traffic, but the people were quite nice and gave me a wide berth, eventually I did get accustomed, but this is definitely one thing I would like to see changed – wide safe sidewalks to roll on into Bridgetown would be a great benefit.” Earl and John would have travelled the road along Bay Street from the Hilton Hotel to reach Bridgetown. Had it not been for the FAB beach wheelchair, Earl would never had been able to enjoy the ocean as the hotel owned beach wheelchair had been damaged by previous guests and had not yet been repaired. However we are happy to report that upon learning that Earl rented the Beach wheelchair from the Barbados Council for the Disabled, the Hilton reimburse him for the cost of the rental. Earl is just one visitor who has been to Barbados with a disability, who despite a couple hiccups was able to enjoy the island but would love to see some infrastructural changes implemented which will make using our island’s amenities easier. Things like wide sidewalks, accessible ramps and slopes, accessible doorways, lowered door handles in public places, more affordable (public) accessible transportation, these are all a few things which play an integral part in making a “Fully Accessible Barbados” vacation possible. When we left him Earl was headed to Surfside Restaurant on the west coast. John was looking forward to trying their Rum Punch – “Go John, that Rum Punch REALLY packs a Punch!”
Not enough done for disabled – BCD
Don’t dictate to us. That’s the message from the Barbados Council for the Disabled to government and all other decision-makers in society as that organisation ends the year with an appeal for more efforts at inclusiveness to accommodate in the mainstream of life on this island. Delivering brief remarks at the BCD’s annual dinner and awards ceremony, President, Maria Holder-Small said “we have seen strides made towards a more inclusive society which embraces people with disabilities, but sadly not enough or in many cases nothing has been done to address critical areas that continue to impede the inclusion and independence of persons with disabilities”. Addressing a packed ballroom at Mahogany Ridge, she said there is still a lot more to be done, and “we must not let persons dictate and tell us what we are able to do but rather show them what we can do”. “Persons with disabilities are important and should be treated in the same manner you would like to be treated,” she added. This year the Council recognised its outstanding members for their work, and honoured organisations and individuals for sterling contributions in meeting various needs of the disabled on the island. In thanking the contributors for their efforts at enabling Council members, Holder-Small said that despite the good work, “an inclusive Barbados seems at times to elude us”. The BCD president made clear that all of Barbados will hear a lot more from members of this organisation in their quest for more inclusiveness in society as they, “continue to advocate as much as we can on behalf of persons with disabilities and will seek to foster new partnerships which will assist the Council in reaching new heights to break down even more barriers”. Article by George Alleyne Barbados Today
3 rd Annual Dorien Pile National Literary Competition
The Barbados Council for the Disabled is pleased to invite your Organization’s participation in the 3 rd Annual Dorien Pile National Literary Competition 2018. Mrs. Dorien Pile GCM – Former Educator and Principal of the Combermere School, played an integral role in establishing Programs within the Council which focused on empowering Persons with Disabilities in Barbados. Persons are invited to submit your Creative Expressions in one of the following areas: Format for Entries: – Written, Electronic (Email), Audio or Braille Format Animation: Video (No less than 3 mins and no more than 5 mins) Eligible Participants: Primary/Secondary Schools! Tertiary Institutions! Persons with Disabilities, General Public Categories: 8 – 12 years/ 13 – 17 years/18 years and Over Topic: “Leaving no one behind in an Inclusive Society… Word Count: ESSAY: 500 – 750 WORDS 8 – 12 years 13 – 17 years – 1200 words 18 years and Over – 1500 words Prizes: 1st Place $1,000.00 2nd Place $750.00 3rd Place $500.00 Animation: $500.00 Email your entries to email@example.com or deliver them to The Barbados Council for the Disabled, Harambee House, Garrison, St. Michael. For further information Contact Mrs. RoseAnn FosterVaughan at 6290570 , OR visit the Council’s website www.barbadosdisabled.org.bb DEADLINE FOR SUBMISSION: Friday, October 13 th 2018
Making disability the business of all
‘Tourism is everybody’s business’ goes the slogan of Barbados’ number one economic sector, but based on the numbers it can be argued that disability is also everybody’s business. An average of one in every 24 people has some form of recognized physical disability. This makes getting all Barbadians in tune with the needs of the disabled comparable to the need for all to get involved in tourism, the island’s bread and butter industry. Supported by 2010 national census figures that put the number of people with disability at 11,546, out of a total population of 288,821, the Barbados Council for the Disabled has conducting sensitivity training for service industry workers on relating to the special needs of the disabled. Airline bag handlers, ‘red c airport porters, lifeguards, National Conservation Commission workers, immigration officers, policemen, restaurant workers, hotel workers – all who contribute to making Barbados’ host tourism product enjoyable for everyone, including the disabled, have received the training. BCD’s outreach is under its Fully Accessible Barbados (FAB) project and at the Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc workers are the prime users of the programme. Fully Accessible Barbados “recognizes the importance of accessibility in order to achieve the truly inclusive society which is part of our vision,” said the council. “FAB enlisted the support of a number of key stakeholders. These include representatives from tourism, education and other service related sectors.” BTMI has been the main user of the council’s disability sensitivity training programmes for public service providers, according to the council’s operations manager, Rosanna Tudor. Through a specially designed ‘Host Tourism’ element of the programme, the BTMI has been sending its frontline workers for training on an almost monthly basis. “The training is to get them to become aware of the need and how to respond to the needs of persons with disabilities,” Tudor said. “It’s a cross-section of tourism industry providers that we train through that host tourism programme. That’s been going on now for the past couple years,” Tudor said. Emphasizing the tie-in of tourism economics with service needs of physically challenged the residents and visitors, Tudor spoke of a US survey of travellers with disabilities that reported them “saying they would go back to a place, or facility or country where the people’s attitudes were more accommodating”. Being ‘accommodating’ in the service industry involves more than simple provision of ramps for wheelchair users, but with the understanding and helpful attitude of providers of that service, she said. In Fully Accessible Barbados, “not only do we assess buildings and facilities, but we also have to provide this service because you have to be able to respond and recognise the various needs of those who come to use your service,” Tudor added. Staff of about 15 organizations have so far participated in the sensitivity training sessions. Drivers at the Transport Board and some supervisors devoted last Saturday to a sensitivity class at the BCD’s Harambee House headquarters, the Garrison. The management of this essential service saw the importance of the training and has so far sent their frontline employees for two sessions, with more attending whenever classes can be scheduled to suit the bus company’s work shifts, she said. But the disabled community official also pressed the state-owned enterprise to seek a large proportion of buses designed for the disabled whenever Government is restocking its fleet. And momentum is gaining for various organizations in Barbados to sign up for disabled sensitivity training, as the council has conducted 40 to 50 training sessions annually for the last three years. At this rate, the BCD may be well on its way to making disability the business of everyone in Barbados. (GA)
New Champions Rule Special Olympics Football
Davio Harding of the Derrick Smith School and Vocational Centre is an athlete not to be denied. Last year, he scored five goals and was named Most Outstanding Senior Player as his team fell short of winning the Special Olympics Barbados National Games Football Championship. The 2017 senior title went to the Alma Parris Memorial Secondary School, but the closure of that school left the title open this year, as well as another opportunity for Davio to capture the crown. He took full advantage of that opportunity as he scored four goals in leading the Derrick Smith School and Vocational Center to the Division A Senior crown at the recent Special Olympics Barbados National Games Football Championship. Second place in the division was captured by the Learning Centre, with the Ann Hill School taking third. There was also a blistering performance in the Division B Senior competition, with Renako Bellamy of the Ann Hill School scoring six goals as he led his team to the Division B Senior title. That division was rounded out with the Derrick Smith School taking second, the Challenor Creative Arts and Training Centre in third and the Special Olympics Outreach and Skills Training Centre finishing in fourth place. Among the younger players in the Special Olympics Barbados National Games Football Championship, all eyes were on Torian Chase of the Erdiston Special School. His four goals led to the upset of the defending junior division champion, the Ellerton Primary Unit and earned him the title of Junior Division Most Outstanding Player. Ellerton finished second in the junior division. The intellectually disabled athletes of Special Olympics Barbados are being allowed to build and display their skills as a result of the generous support of The Maria Holder Memorial Trust. In keeping with its mission “to improve the quality of life of vulnerable people”, the Trust provided the primary funding for the Special Olympics Barbados National Games Football Championship. In addition, The Maria Holder Memorial Trust is giving like financial support to the major Special Olympics sports event of the year, the Special Olympics Barbados Track and Field National Games and the Special Olympics Barbados National Games in cricket and swimming. The support provided by The Maria Holder Memorial Trust helps create the individual confidence and the societal structure needed for the understanding, acceptance and inclusion of persons with intellectual disability. *Photo tag: “Shamar Smith of the Special Olympics Outreach and Skills Training Centre defends an attack from Raymond Delphi of the Challenor Creative Arts and Training Centre.” Photo compliments of A3KD.
Weekes: Make public buses disabled friendly
The disabled community is appealing to the authorities to do all that is possible to make it easier for them to get around on public transportation. President of Wheelchair Foundation of Barbados Inc Lionel Weekes said this morning it was time that the public transportation system was equipped to accommodate the physically disabled. “We would like the private sector as well as the Transport Board to look at the provision of a number of buses which are developed specifically to deal with the needs of the disabled where they can get on board and disembark very easily,” Weekes said at a presentation ceremony at which his organization received a cash donation from the Massy Foundation. The foundation provides wheelchairs and other assistance, including prostheses, to help disabled and needy people move about, it said on its Facebook page. Weekes explained that the lack of adequately equipped buses was proving costly for members of the community, who sometimes have to dish out as much as $50 to go on an errand. “Now when you consider that the average person has to pay $2 for a ride but this disabled person in order to be able to attend this activity has to pay that amount and in many cases they are not working so the whole question of affordability of public transportation arises,” he said. “A nation that is aspiring to be advanced and so on has to look at these social and developmental dimensions of what they are attempting to do in the country,” Weekes added. Meantime, Keith Yearwood, the foundation’s public relations officer, said he was hoping Prime Minister Mia Mottley would keep her pledge to fully equip new Transport Board buses so they can accommodate the physically disabled. “ One thing I heard the Prime Minister [say] is that when they import these buses that they would be equipped for wheelchairs and we would be very happy about that because it is something that we have been championing,” Yearwood said, adding that members of the disabled need not be prisoners in their own homes. “ We need to get those persons out there, out of the confines of the walls of their house and into the community to really enjoy Barbados. So that is why we are working assiduously so that all of the persons who are shut in can come out and really enjoy Barbados once more,” he stressed.
Special Olympics Athletes to Graduate from Vocational and Skills Training
This Saturday, when 18 intellectually disabled young adults don caps and gowns, they will take a significant step on their journey to full inclusion in the Barbadian society. The graduates of the Special Olympics Barbados Outreach and Skills Training Programme, funded by the European Union, are all Special Olympics athletes. They have successfully completed the 2017-2018 academic year, which included courses in basic mathematics, basic english, agricultural studies, housekeeping, life skills, vocational skills and computer studies. When Valedictorian Tiffany Branch addresses the graduation ceremony, to be held Saturday, July 7, 10 am, at the Church of God, Chapman Street, Bridgetown, it will not be the first time the athlete has excelled. She was a gold and silver medal winning track athlete at the most recent Special Olympics World Summer Games, held in 2015 in Los Angeles. Joining Tiffany will be her fellow graduates Denecia Asgill, Narresa Best, Sherrie-Ann Burnett, Danielle Chambers, Nashon Chase, Keisha Cruickshank, Alana Forde, Sherwin Gibbons, Lee-Ann Gittens, Jelecia Henry, Felicia Mc Lennan, Shanice Morris, Tricia O’Neal, Angia Peters (absentia), Pedro Phillips, Shamar Smith, Roseann Tull and Natasha Ward. This is the second graduating class from the Special Olympics Barbados Outreach and Skills Training Programme and Centre, located on Harbour Road in Bridgetown. The European Union funded programme trains intellectually disabled persons, 16 years of age and older, equipping them to apply for and obtain positions within the Barbadian work force and promotes understanding, acceptance and inclusion. The public is invited to attend the graduation ceremony and support persons with intellectual disability.
Voting Regulations for Persons with Disabilities
Here to help kids with autism
In an interview recently with EASY at the charity’s headquarters at Golf Club Road, Christ Church, Natasha said she decided to raise more awareness about autism and offer support to parents dealing with autistic children. “I started the charity. I started in April for National Autism Awareness Month. I’m a behavioural analyst, so I work with children with autism. I started the charity because families with children already have struggles not just the therapy and paying for the multiple appointments. But home life is stressful, so what we decided to do was starting a charity to help pay for sessions and so on.” “Initially we started out paying for the sessions for the children for a year. We paid for behavioral therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, anything that we could help with. Sometimes we paid for aids to go to school with the kids, and the goal was to give the parents a bit of ease to catch themselves to get ready for what’s next,” she explained. Natasha said, things with the charity were going well so far and she especially loved seeing the progress of the children she worked with. “For me, watching the difference on a video clip is overwhelming. One of the kids we work with refused to speak, then we used some sentence strips to help him now he would say some things and that’s going to help him progress. “A lot of the children on a spectrum have things that create barriers for their learning, so they’re not going to learn to clap their hands if they’re not looking at you and so on. “Research says there is a window and if you can get something in place before five and seven, the child has a better chance of progressing. If a child is throwing tantrums because he doesn’t speak, you have a better chance of teaching him younger that he can communicate with a device that’s called PEX or a board – it’s a method of communication. It’s a lot harder to teach a seven-year-old that’s used to throwing tantrums that,” Natasha explained. However, due to lack of finance, the charity cannot help the full number of children they would love too. “Our goal is four kids a year. This year we only have two because of funding. The funding comes from company donations. We haven’t branched out into events or anything yet. We are still very small. We don’t have any staff, everyone that works with the charity volunteers,” she said. Still, Natasha praised her very hard-working team for their continued effort and support with the children. “We have a very comprehensive board, which is exciting for me because it feels like I have more support. I have a lot of great colleagues with me who either work with the kids in programme or give advice on how to run it,” she added. She said in addition to working with the children, her team’s main goal was to educate the general population in Barbados on what autism really is and the importance of being diagnosed from very early. “I think here it’s a lack of awareness. People don’t understand what it is, what it looks like, what it means and so on. Just because a child is autistic doesn’t mean they can’t do things. They will always have limitations but everyone has limitations. Some kids, their goal is just to be able to tie their shoes, or feed themselves. With other kids, our goal is to get them to tell time and so on. Each child is completely different. “When you’ve met one child with autism, you’ve just met one child with it. The characteristics are similar that’s how they’re diagnosed but it’s not a one size fits all at all,” she stressed. “Some kids have physical differences; others don’t. I work with a family and we were walking through Sheraton and the little girl was throwing a tantrum every time we walked past a toy store. Mum used to walk her in but then she started throwing tantrums because she wanted something. And that wasn’t ever the deal. “They had a school trip and the mum was nervous so we used to practise walking past the toy store she would lay on the floor and kick and scream. It was for attention because she wanted access to something that she couldn’t have. “A lot of kids would do that. But in her case it continued and continued and got worse. A lady came up to us and said that child just needs a lash or if we send her home with her she would deal with it and the child would be fine. So it’s that little bit of misunderstanding that there’s more going on,” she explained. Natasha said every April for Autism Awareness Month they run a campaign called Light It Up Blue, where they ask companies to turn on blue lights, a way for them to promote autism awareness. She said they were also in the process of creating a support group so parents would have a medium to share their experience with each other. “We want to start a parent support group because there’re a lot of parents dealing with stuff. We support parents as much as we can but we don’t go home with autistic children. We are the ones saying try this or that but we go home to a different environment. We can’t connect on that same level. So a support group would be good for them because some feel very alone,” she said. In addition, Natasha said they were looking to expand even more in the near future. “Barbados has limited resources but we do have resources. It’s just about getting all the info together and getting it out there. We have big plans. We want to eventually work with the ministry and get more information to them and so on. We are still small and we all have full-time jobs but we are a dedicated group,” she added. (DB) Compliments Nation News Article by DAVANDRA BABB
President Maria Holder Small commemorates Month of the Disabled 2018
Check out our facebook page and watch our President Maria Holder Small as she commemorates the Month of the Disabled 2018. We’ve got a full calendar of activities coming up this month which we hope you’ll be there to support. Watch the video on Facebook.
Park ‘n’ Wheel Simulation a Great Success!
Massy car park Warrens was the scene of our latest educational endeavors, though not well attended by invited guest, the event itself was a huge success. Attendees were able to experience first hand the difficulties faced by persons with disabilities when embarking or disembarking from vehicles (especially in wheelchairs) when there are no parking ramps or when persons who are not disabled unmindfully and selfishly use spaces designated for the disabled. We heard words like eye-opening, new appreciation for, educational, uncomfortable and frustrating after each participant eventually squeezed themselves between two parked cars whilst trying to maneuver in a wheelchair. Passersby slowed down and some even stopped, to watch as our guests tried to get themselves out of what could only be described as a “very tight space” and even applauded after the deed was done. All the participants agreed that their experience was definitely educational, something that they would take with them through life as they were able to truly understand what a struggle persons with disabilities face, and were now better prepared to give their support to a cause which they now fully understood and could more sympathize with. The Council wishes to thank the Parliamentarians who attended, Ms. Charmaine Roland Bowen of the Barbados Road Safety Association and Mr. Stetson Wiltshire (Red Plastic Bag) for their participation in our event, we know that their voices are now added to ours as we strive to help make Barbados a Fully Accessible destination for all. Check out our FaceBook page for photos. Article by: Nicole Lavine
Legislation soon to protect the disabled
The Ministry of Social Care is in the process of enacting legislation to protect the disabled community and a draft Bill is now before the Chief Parliamentary Counsel. In her address on Thursday at the Congress of Trade Unions and Staff Associations of Barbados’ Midterm Delegates’ Conference at the Courtyard by Marriott Hotel, Minister of Labour, Senator Dr Esther Byer Suckoo, expressed optimism that the Bill would be debated soon. She said that “sometime in the very near future, we will have on our statute books, legislation to protect one of our society’s most vulnerable groups”. Dr Byer Suckoo contended that over the years, Barbados had sought to create mechanisms to maintain high standards of care and due diligence regarding the rights and protection of the disabled. In this regard, the Minister of Labour said significant efforts had been made to provide support services to integrate persons with disabilities into the labour force through skills training provided by the National Disabilities Unit. Given this scenario, the Minister told her audience that one must dispel the notion that a disabled person was one who was unable to help themselves, effectively function in society, or someone who was confined at home and unable to work. “We should all be aware now that disability and disabled persons form a spectrum. You have those with mild disabilities to those who have extreme and severe disabilities. So, there is no one cap fits all; we have to realise that there is a spectrum. I am hopeful by now that all of you will agree that disability does not signify inability. In fact, in most cases, it is not inability,” she emphasised. Senator Byer Suckoo reminded the participants that the ‘differently-abled’ were just as valuable to the island’s economic growth and prosperity as able-bodied workers, and that all efforts must be made to ensure that they were not marginalised. “As a nation, it is imperative that we must never forget that our overall productivity and growth is dependent on the inclusion of all persons in our labour force. When all individuals are engaged in decent employment, it not only reduces unemployment figures, it also reduces the burden on those state agencies mandated to provide services; provides support to families; and gives the individual a sense of self-worth,” she said.
BTPA makes a case for tourism access for the disabled
Local officials have suggested that Barbados could be losing out on hundreds of visitors and crucial tourism dollars from the disabled community because the island is not fully ready to cater to their needs. And they are warning tourism officials as well as government to move with haste in putting the necessary legislation and policies and procedures in place to better accommodate locals and visitors with disabilities. The concern was raised during the Barbados Tourism Product Authority’s (BTPA) Accessible Barbados Symposium panel discussion on the topic Universal Access: Is the Tourism Sector Ready? at the Courtyard by Marriott hotel on Friday. It is estimated that approximately two million people with disabilities travel worldwide each year. Michael Holder, managing director and owner of Blessed Rentals, a company that transports people with disabilities, said the traveling disability community was a niche area that Barbados should be tapping into. However, Holder, who did not mince his words, said the island was simply not fully accessible to accommodate them, adding that the government “really do not care about those with disability”. His comments came following a revelation by attorney-at-law Edmund Hinkson that several pieces of legislation with pending amendments to better accommodate and protect people with disability were yet to go before Parliament for approval and that Barbados was “in breach” of a UN convention on people with disability since it had ratified the convention but had no law in place. “When Mr. Hinkson spoke I listened carefully and I wonder to myself, are we really ready in Barbados? . . . At the end of the day the government is who run the country. They do not care about disabled persons,” said Holder. “For me, if you really care you are going to implement these laws. You are not going to let them drag on for years. You are going to cut that red tape which the council for the disabled face, which Sunshine faced when they were bringing in the new vehicles,” he said, adding that he too had issues with getting duty free vehicles imported for use to transport people with disability. Holder further stated out that while there were about five Transport Board buses for the disabled, only one or two were working at any one time, a situation that had resulted in students missing school for periods of up to two weeks. “This might sound a little harsh but maybe it would take one of them [government ministers] to have their relatives disabled for them to say ‘you know what, we need to do something about it’,” said Holder, agreeing that the attitude of others toward people with disability needed to change. Turning his attention to the tourism industry Holder singled out taxi operators, questioning if the industry was adequately equipped to accommodate people with disability. “There is a big tourist market for disabled persons to come to Barbados but we are not ready. First of all when they come to the airport the regular taxis are there and they walk up to them and say ‘we gine lift you’,” said Holder. Stating that Barbados was in “a unique” position of being a year round tourist destination, administrative project officer at the Barbados Council for the Disabled Roseann Foster-Vaughan, said while she was pleased that some progress had been made to accommodate people with disability in the sector, Barbados was “not there yet”.
Review policy on recruiting workers with disabilities
The problems that beset the recruitment and employment of workers with disabilities might be the failure of successive governments to put into law a Disabilities Act, a Fair Labour Standards Act or a Code of Employment Practice. That’s the view of General Secretary of the Congress of Trade Unions and Staff Associations of Barbados (CTUSAB), Dennis de Peiza. And he says it seems that in order for persons with disabilities to have effective equal opportunities to obtain employment, the process has to be guided by legislation. He cited limited opportunity for training and promotion that seems to be given to public sector workers with disabilities and public officers who acquire a disability that are often medically boarded, without the effort made to place them in some viable position within the service, as issues that must be addressed. Delivering the keynote address at the Annual General Meeting of the Barbados Council for the Disabled, held at the Accra Beach Hotel and Spa over the weekend, he said he heard of a “ridiculous” reports where a female lost her disability benefit for having been seen in a shop handing a customer a beverage. This apparently was construed to mean that the individual was working. “If this is the policy which applies, then it means that this is step in the directive of making persons invalids or better yet invalid, casting them to their graves as unproductive citizens. This is senseless, and there is an urgent need for the authorities to put an end to this,” he asserted. While he believes that the labour movement has the interests and welfare of workers with disabilities at heart, he says they may want to question themselves as to whether or not the promotion of the employment of persons with disabilities has been treated as a matter of priority. “There is an obvious need for more to be done to ensure that persons with disabilities who are already in the labour market and those who are entering are supported and protected by the measures which are brought on stream,” he further stated. He is calling for government and employers within the private sector to review their policy on the recruitment, hiring, and the retention of workers with disabilities. He also pointed to the National Employment Policy of Barbados, which speaks to creating an enabling environment that is conducive to the empowerment of the labour force through employment promotion and the provision of decent working opportunities.
THE HARAMBEE ENTERPRISE SCHEME
An initiative of Barbados Council for the Disabled 2017 Persons with disabilities have dreams like everyone else. They dream of pursuing a career in a variety of fields or, of achieving skills in a range of areas. Sadly, there are not always enough avenues opened to help them realise their potential. Individuals are often limited by society’s perception of what is “Meritorious” and as a result, doors open to others are frequently closed to persons with disabilities. In recognition of these challenges, the Barbados Council for the Disabled has conceptualized the “Harambee Enterprise Scheme”. The Barbados Council for the Disabled was pleased to award three diverse initiatives at its Annual General Meeting, held on Saturday, June 24th 2017. The recipients are: Mark Goddard Mr. Mark Goddard – who is visually impaired, is a member of the Barbados Association for the Blind & Deaf. He is getting into Chicken Rearing. Melinda Melony Ms. Malinda Maloney – is a Member & Volunteer of Barbados Organisation of Parents of the Disabled – OPOD, who is pursuing a career as a Dressmaker, Specialising in Plus Size Fashions. The Harambee Grant will facilitate Ms. Maloney’s final semester studies with the Girls Industrial Union. Sandra-White-Belgrave Mrs. Sandra Belgrave-White: is a member of New Life Deaf Club, as a Person who is Hard of Hearing is undertaking a Sign Language training program called “Start ASL Online Class & Gold Level”. Her long-term goal is to become certified as a Sign Language Interpreter
Data on disabilities crippling advancements
The absence of empirical data and statistics as it relates to persons with disabilities in Barbados is a sore spot and big challenge for the Barbados Council of the Disabled as they seek to advocate for the rights of this community. Sharing such was the President of the Council, Maria Holder-Small as she made an appeal to employers to share their data with the Council. At a seminar hosted by the Congress of Trade Unions and Staff Associations of Barbados (CTUSAB) this morning in the Warrens Office Complex, she lamented that “data are hard to find.” Asserting that the problem is only made worse by the fact that this population is “not only marginalized but ignored,” she said that accurate statistics would be crucial in helping the Council and other similar entities create and raise targeted awareness where necessary. After her presentation, she told Loop: “Statistics? That is a no-no. You can never get statistics for anything. We are really limited.” Asked if the Council ever considered partnering with the University of the West Indies (UWI), Cave Hill campus to conduct research or surveys, she admitted: “We have been trying to butt our heads on what to do. We would like to get a more accurate number of how many persons with disabilities out there, not only disabilities, but what and which disabilities. I would like to be able to say we have 4 000, 1 400, whatever number of wheelchair users, and this amount of deaf. “We keep asking ourselves, ‘How are we going to do it?’ because we don’t have the manpower or the resources to do it.” But she said that she is open to having a discussion with various agencies to get a better picture of what is happening with this vulnerable community. “We have to do this. We have to find out how many employers have people with disabilities employed, all of that. Those are the things that we need to know and do. Nobody else is doing it so the Council when we see, we just do what we supposed to do. We do where we see there is a shortage and we really want to attempt the gathering of info soon, honestly.” Holder-Small said that in the past they opened the discussion with the Barbados Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCI) and the Barbados Hotel and Tourism Association (BHTA) but she stated that they must revisit that conversation now and have dialogue with other agencies like the Barbados Private Sector Association and others to tag the disabled within the workforce and start compiling the data. This article is compliments : Loop News Barbados
CTUSAB committed to promoting & empowering persons disabilities
As the featured speaker at the Barbados Council for the Disabled Annual General Meeting, Mr. Dennis De Peiza – General Secretary of the Congress of Trade Unions and Staff Associations of Barbados (CTUSAB) in lauding the Council’s work for the past 40 years, reiterated his organisation’s commitment as social partner, to working with government agencies and local non-governmental organizations in promoting the advancement and empowerment of workers with disabilities; hence the cultivation of relationships with the Barbados Council for the Disabled (BCD), the National Disability Unit (NDU) and the Barbados National Organization of the Disabled (BARNOD). To this end on 28 February 2017 CTUSAB publicly launched its yearlong Employment of Workers with Disabilities Project. Under the project, CTUSAB proposed to work in collaboration with the stakeholders in promoting the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, paying particular attention to the aspects of education and awareness. The expectation is that as a result of the education and awareness campaign, there would be a greater acceptance, engagement and empowerment of all persons with disabilities, and in so doing, lead to workers with disabilities being given equal opportunity to develop their skills and talents, and to access promotional opportunities in the workplace, without prejudice or reservation. This aligns itself with the policy position of CTUSAB, which is cited at Section 4-11 (a) and (b) of its Statement of Policies Document 2015, which reads: “CTUSAB believes that those who are physically and mentally challenged should be ensured fair and equitable treatment allowing equal access to educational opportunities, employment and all civil and human rights and other rights guaranteed by the laws of Barbados.” “CTUSAB believes in particular that those who are physically and mentally challenged should be provided with access to all opportunities in the educational system, including entry to any formal examination at any level.” The position is supported by that of the Social Partners, which is expressed in Section 5:10 of Protocol 6, under the caption of Persons with Disabilities. It reads: “The Social Partners acknowledge their individual and collective responsibility to ensure the existence of an environment which will allow the full integration and participation in society of all persons with disabilities, but more especially their obligation to eliminate marginalization and discrimination in respect of the access of persons with disabilities to education, employment, and involvement in the socio–economic development of Barbados.” As to whether the social partners in government, the private sector and labour, have fallen short of delivering on expectations, Mr. De Peiza sought to identify possible ways by which these shortcomings can or may be rectified. Based on the opinion of the audience when the question was asked regarding if persons with disabilities being fairly treated or on par with regular workers in the workforce, a resounding NO. On examining the state of unemployment among members of the disabled community, and based on the reasons given for not hiring them, there is a recognition by the International Labour Organization (ILO) that people with disabilities make up an estimated one billion, or 15 per cent, of the world’s population. It is estimated that 80 per cent are of working age. It comes as no surprise the ILO confirmed that the rights of people with disabilities to decent work are frequently denied. Moreover, when compared to non-disabled persons, persons with disabilities experienced higher rates of unemployment. Information strongly suggests that workers with disabilities are being discriminated against. Point of reference is made to the findings of a survey commissioned by CareerBuilder.com and Kelly Services Survey Shows, Chicago, Illinois, June 19, 2007. The research found that forty-four percent of workers with disabilities reported they have experienced discrimination or unfair treatment. Of those who reported the discrimination or unfair treatment to their employers, six-in-ten (61 percent) said the offender was not held accountable. “This is unacceptable and therefore raises the vexing question as to whether the charge of discrimination could be levied both at government as an employer, and those employers within the private sector”. At the risk of being harshly criticized, Mr. De Peiza contended that the private sector in Barbados may well be the chief perpetrator of such an unjust practice. This assertion is based on the fact that employers are generally guilty of making a relationship between the disability and reduced productivity. In moving to correct this wrong, it is for employers to have good employment policies in place which will merit the confidence of those persons with disabilities. For sure many persons with disabilities can attest to being overlooked by Human Resources Managers, not on account of their lack of knowledge, skills and expertise but because of the perception held about the individual’s supposed suitability for the job, which is based primarily on their ailment. It would be surprising to know that some employers and human resources managers try to take advantage of these persons, by offering them less pay and benefits. Some are so unconscionable, they even attempt to exploit these persons by inviting them to do volunteer or free work, under the guise of assisting for charitable causes or work experience. According to the Speaker, “ Here in Barbados, many of the problems that beset the recruitment and employment of workers with disabilities may have their genius in the failure of successive governments to put into law a Disabilities Act, a Fair Labour Standards Act or a Code of Employment Practice. It would seem that in order for persons with disabilities to have effective equal opportunities to obtain employment, it requires that this must be guided by legislation.” “Some burning questions need to be answered with respect to how workers with disabilities or those who acquired disabilities in the public service are treated. Take for example the limited opportunity for training and promotion that seems to be given to those public sector workers with disability. It is well known that public officers who acquire a disability are often medically boarded, and without the effort made to place them in some viable position within the service.” “Under examination is the policy which applies to those public officers who are granted disability benefits. There are many stories of persons losing their benefits when an officer of the National Insurance Department reports that an individual was found to be in breach of the requirement, that they must do no manner of work. There a ludicrous report where a female lost her disability benefit for having been seen in a shop handing a customer a beverage. This apparently was construed to mean that the individual was working. If this is the policy which applies, then it means that this is step in the directive of making persons invalids or better yet in valid, casting them to their graves as unproductive citizens. This is senseless, and there is an urgent need for the authorities to put an end to this.” In seeking to step-up to the “Plate” the Congress of Trade Unions and Staff Associations of Barbados, will host a Symposium on Wednesday, July 11th 2017. The topic to be addressed ‘Developing a Code of Employment for Workers with Disabilities’, Trade Union leaders, representatives of organizations of the disabled community, managers and human resource managers, will be invited to deliberate on how best to tackle the problem of the unemployment of Workers with Disabilities, with a call a national approach which mirrors that of Asian countries. At the heart of the Asian policy is the responsibility placed on government to promote a human rights approach to the employment of workers with disabilities, and the development of media and communication strategies for promoting the rights of people with disabilities. In an age of advanced technologies, government and employers within the private sector are called upon to review their policy on the recruitment, hiring, and the retention of workers with disabilities. Further reference being made to National Employment Policy of Barbados and the policy’s goal as set out in the Mission Statement, which speaks to creating an enabling environment that is conducive to the empowerment of the labour force through employment promotion and the provision of decent working opportunities. The attainment of the three specific objectives: Address inequalities through the provision of decent work opportunities for all persons, particularly taking into account the needs of vulnerable categories of workers such as women, the youth, migrant workers and persons with disabilities. The promotion of an employment policy which seeks to provide jobs for all those Barbadians who are available for and desirous of work, regardless of means or physical ability, and where there is the freedom of choice of employment in an environment void of any form of discrimination, where workers have the greatest possible opportunity to qualify for, and to use their skills and potential in a job well suited to them. The encouragement is to be made to all private sector businesses and government ministries to hire at least one disabled person over the next three to five years. As the newly elected Executive of the Barbados Council for the Disabled 2017 – 2019 comprising of: President – Mrs. Maria Holder-Small Vice-President – Mrs. Patricia Padmore- Blackman Secretary- Rev. Joseph Tudor Treasurer – Dr. Jennifer Campbell PRO – Jervis L Smith Directors – Mr. Colbert Ashby Mr. Sean Cooke Mr. Christopher Gilkes Mr. Edmund Hinkson, MP Senator Kerryann Ifill Mr. Roger Vaughan We pledge our commitment towards working with the Congress of Trade Unions and Staff Associations of Barbados (CTUSAB), tackling the problem of unemployment facing workers with disabilities.
Medical student wins Kregg Nurse Memorial Scholarship
JANELLE KNIGHT is the winner of the 13th annual Caribbean Catalyst Inc. regg Nurse Memorial Scholarship. Knight, 21, is pursuing medical studies at the University of the West Indies at Cave Hill Campus. The runner-up is Gabriella Bovell-Niles (below), also 21, a psychology and sociology student at Cave Hill. The presentation was made this morning by Senator Kerryann Ifill at the Caribbean Catalyst River Road, St Michael office. “Here I am today, grateful that there are persons who stop to acknowledge those who excel despite these limitations. I thank you,” Knight told the gathering. The scholarship is presented to a person with a disability who is pursuing post-secondary education at a recognised tertiary institution. Nurse was the first person with a disability to graduate with honours from Cave Hill in 1997. He died in at age 27 after a battle with muscular dystrophy. His mother Linelle and brother Ricky were present for the ceremony. The latter painted a picture of a younger brother who was never held back by his disability, making friends wherever he went and constantly excelling. Nurse said he saw some of his brother’s personality in this year’s finalists. “… that is where my challenge will come to you. You have to continue to change the entire environment around you and force them to catch up to you; whether it is your creativity as a person; whether it is that passion and that drive. Force them to learn what your experience is like and to really broaden their thinking to suit,” he said. Knight, who is hearing impaired, hopes to specialise in orthopaedic surgery and dreams of being a doctor on the staff of an NBA team. Bovell-Niles’ right arm was amputated below the elbow after she was involved in a vehicular accident in December 2015. She wants to be a Special Education Teacher and speech language pathologist. Article Compliments: The Nation Newspaper
Disabled glad for new laws
THE LOOMING punishment for unkind drivers who park in spots reserved for the disabled is being hailed by the Barbados Council for the Disabled (BCD). The umbrella body for about 17 organisations representing people who suffer with disabilities was reacting to news last week by Minister of Transport and Works Michael Lashley about an amendment to the Road Traffic Act and Regulations. The amended law would mean that offenders who stop, stand or park a vehicle in the specially designated space could be fined up to $500 if they do not have a valid parking permit from the Licensing Authority prominently displayed. The penalty is also attached to the blocking of the dropped kerb, the lowered section of the sidewalk that facilitate the movement of disabled person. President of the BCD, Maria Holder Small, said the body had waited long for the legislation that would give teeth to what some companies had already instituted and so deal with some of the selfishness of motorists. “We have some of the disabled who drive; it is not only wheelchair users who drive. Many persons benefit from those parking IDs; we have persons with pacemakers who are not able to walk the long distance or even the short distance from the vehicle to the door,” she said, adding that the elderly were also accommodated. Holder Small, who has been president for the last two years, added that it was comforting to know the disabled have not been forgotten. She said last year the disabled community presented a petition with more than 12 000 signatures seeking legal recognition of the parking spaces. “I eagerly look forward to these amendments,” she said. She explained that she had not walked since 2006 as a result of multiple sclerosis, but even before then she would chide able-bodied people for using the designated parking spaces and ask them to be “considerate” and think of those who needed the spaces. “So I guess a little empathy is what we need here,” Holder Small said. With the changes in the offing, Holder Small said the council would intensify its education programme to make residents aware of the new law and to be conscious of what the logos and blue spaces really represented. (AC)
Data on disabilities crippling advancements
The absence of empirical data and statistics as it relates to persons with disabilities in Barbados is a sore spot and big challenge for the Barbados Council of the Disabled as they seek to advocate for the rights of this community. Sharing such was the President of the Council, Maria Holder-Small as she made an appeal to employers to share their data with the Council. At a seminar hosted by the Congress of Trade Unions and Staff Associations of Barbados (CTUSAB) this morning in the Warrens Office Complex, she lamented that “data are hard to find.” Asserting that the problem is only made worse by the fact that this population is “not only marginalized but ignored,” she said that accurate statistics would be crucial in helping the Council and other similar entities create and raise targeted awareness where necessary. After her presentation, she told Loop: “Statistics? That is a no-no. You can never get statistics for anything. We are really limited.” Asked if the Council ever considered partnering with the University of the West Indies (UWI), Cave Hill campus to conduct research or surveys, she admitted: “We have been trying to butt our heads on what to do. We would like to get a more accurate number of how many persons with disabilities out there, not only disabilities, but what and which disabilities. I would like to be able to say we have 4 000, 1 400, whatever number of wheelchair users, and this amount of deaf. “We keep asking ourselves, ‘How are we going to do it?’ because we don’t have the manpower or the resources to do it.” But she said that she is open to having a discussion with various agencies to get a better picture of what is happening with this vulnerable community. “We have to do this. We have to find out how many employers have people with disabilities employed, all of that. Those are the things that we need to know and do. Nobody else is doing it so the Council when we see, we just do what we supposed to do. We do where we see there is a shortage and we really want to attempt the gathering of info soon, honestly.” Holder-Small said that in the past they opened the discussion with the Barbados Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCI) and the Barbados Hotel and Tourism Association (BHTA) but she stated that they must revisit that conversation now and have dialogue with other agencies like the Barbados Private Sector Association and others to tag the disabled within the workforce and start compiling the data.
Last Chance to Register for the ICBL Run/Walk
Special Olympics Barbados is one of the charities which will benefit from the ICBL Run/Walk to be held on Heroes Day, April 28, and we need your help to make our participation in the event memorable. If 30 persons register at Special Olympics Barbados for the ICBL Run/Walk by Thursday, April 13, those persons will receive an event T-shirt bearing the Special Olympics Barbados logo. We are half way to the goal of 30 registrations. You can help us reach that goal by signing up for the ICBL Run/Walk and paying your $30 registration fee at the Special Olympics Office no later than this Thursday, April 13. The Special Olympics Barbados Office is located at Arbor House, #23 James Street, Bridgetown, and the office is open from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm. Thank you for your support, and we will see you at the ICBL Run/Walk on Heroes Day, April 28.
Constance keeps pressing on
THE INAUGURAL Dorian Pile Essay Competition winner is by no means a writer. Constance Maloney said she simply decided to challenge herself to write because there was a segment open to members of the disabled community, an unusual occurrence. The competition was held last November as part of national celebrations marking the 50th anniversary of Barbados’ Independence. It provided a platform for her to represent several issues she and other disabled people faced daily. Life As It Is Living With A Disability In Independent Barbados was the topic she used to discuss education, transportation and employment, as well as the impact of the lack of access. When asked why those issues, Maloney said: “I live it every day. As a person with a disability I find that many disabled persons are not privileged to education as they would like.” The 53-year-old, whose eyesight challenges started while at school, said she had to give up her studies at the time, but was now fulfilling her dream of having CXC qualifications. “I could not continue my schooling; I had to drop out. What we have now in terms of education, we did not have then. The computer and Braille were not available. It’s not that I could not learn but there was not the means for me to be taught,” she told the MIDWEEK NATION. Opportunities “I always thought if I had the opportunities then that the children have now, I would have done well. I would have been much farther than I am. I am doing it now though.” Diagnosed with optic atrophy, damage to the optic nerves that can harm central vision, Maloney recalled the frustrations of being an 11-year-old who could not see the board in class. She said that around that time, Ministry of Health officials came around to the schools doing screening of eyes and teeth and it was then she realised she had a vision deficiency. “It hindered me from learning as I would have liked to. I could not see to read the board even when I was sitting close to the front of the class, but there were times when I sat further back, I could not make out anything. It was like a mist,” she said. Maloney would stay at home with her mother and grandmother after leaving school. Later in life, when she was 24, she met visually impaired Elviston Maloney, who is president of the Association for the Blind. They married and together raised three children. Maloney said they coped as a visually impaired couple. “We managed. At that time I had more vision than what I have now, the sight was much better but they were no challenges raising the children. We did everything like normal; fed, bathed, cooked, clothed them,” she said. Dependent She explained that not having a full education and jobs and with no money, they could not sustain themselves and were then dependent on everyone else or disability benefits. As for transportation, Maloney said lack of it hampered them because sometimes they would like to go places but could not. She said her sight now was very limited. “As it is, I can still see the light. I can see objects; sometimes it goes dim and then it would come back up.” However, she has decided that she will take advantage of all new opportunities that come her way. The essay competition was the start. She got some assistance from her tutor at the Centre for the Blind, Mark Stoute, who guided her on what points to place emphasis on. “Of course I would do it again,” she added. “Since the computer came on stream, Braille has been pushed to the background but I believe strongly there is still a need for Braille. I would like to see it return,” she said. Despite her disability, Maloney said she had long developed a rule to live by. “My philosophy as a person with a disability is that we should not allow anyone or anything to stop us from achieving what we want. That is my principle; if you want something, you go for it. I passed that on to my children and told them to get an education and make most of their opportunities,” she said. She spent ten years at the Blind Workshop making mops before she retired, but has now returned to study CXC English. “To me it is like a dream come true. English was my favourite subject at school. So I am making the most of this opportunity and trying to remain calm as the examination approaches.” She hopes to further her studies, though she has not decided what to do next. Ultimately, she wants to get into counselling and motivational speaking. As for others trying to cope with their disabilities, Maloney had some advice: “Once you accept it for what it is, you can cope with it, so I believe that the first thing you must do is accept it. I also have a great sense of gratitude for who I am; it could have been much worse.” (LK)
MONDAY MAN: Muscle condition not keeping Winston down
Bodybuilding was one of his favourite pastimes. Double that with cycling and Winston Browne was an active man. However, myasthenia gravis has curtailed his passion for pumping iron at the gym and taking long rides. Twenty-two years ago, while in his early 30s, Winston realised he was feeling very low on energy, despite taking supplements. For three weeks he tried to figure out what was happening; the double vision and lethargy were all too strange. When his eyes started drooping he knew for certain it was something he could not ignore. “At first I was saying that maybe my body needed some rest,” he said, shrugging. However, acting on the advice of a friend who realised his eye looked droopy he paid the doctor a visit. Two weeks of observation at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital led to the diagnosis of myasthenia gravis, a rare long-term condition that causes certain muscles in the body to become weak. “I went to the doctor who sent me straight to the hospital. At first the doctor did not know what it was, so they ran some tests and did observations and that was when my life changed,” Winston said. The disease most commonly affects muscles that control eye and eyelid movement, with a drooping eyelid a notable symptom along with blurred or double vision. Other common muscle groups that are affected make it difficult for sufferers to chew, swallow, smile, shrug, lift arms up, grip, rise to stand, or walk up stairs. In some cases the muscles necessary for breathing are affected and can threaten life. Thankfully, in Winston’s case, only his eyes have been affected, but the majority of myasthenia gravis sufferers go on to develop weakness in other muscle groups within one or two years. The possibility that a muscle in another part of his body could be attacked by the autoimmune condition is always at the forefront of Winston’s mind. However, he is quick to say that he tries not to let it bother him. “I do what I can do now, tomorrow I cannot control so I relax,” he said. “There are some people who have it and they cannot walk properly, some complain that they cannot even plait their own hair, they need someone to do it for them but I can still move around, I can still work,” Winston said. Another effect of the condition is that if the sun is really hot, sufferers get really tired and may suddenly want to just lie down and rest. While he sticks to his medication regimen, Winston said that sometimes he experiences double vision. He finds it difficult to hold his hands in the air for a long time because his shoulders would feel weak, but he is doing fine otherwise. To make up for the loss of his more strenuous pastimes, Winston has taken up other hobbies that are not as energy draining as bodybuilding. “The doctor said we are not allowed to exercise due to the fact that it is a muscle condition and strenuous physical activity is ruled out.But I do a lot of walking,” he said. He has a wide collection of fishing rods and goes fishing as often as he can. In addition Winston has rabbits, chickens and cows to keep him busy. “I try to get up on morning early and get that done before the sun rises because if it gets too hot, I will not get it done. The latest I am outside tending to the cows is at 7 o’clock,” said the chef at Royal Pavilion Hotel. Winston said he mostly worked the night shift since it was easier on his body. Physically he is still strong, so his family has had to make very few adjustments to accommodate him. His only challenge is that he has to rest a lot. As a member of the Myasthenia Gravis Association of Barbados for the past 18 years, he is working to raise awareness of the condition. He said he was thankful to learn that it is not hereditary considering that he is the father of two children. Additionally he said that after he realised that there was no cure, being a member of the association helped him to cope. “To accept that it is a daily thing that I have to live was important. To let it get to me would stress me out and do more harm than good. “As long as you are alive, things will happen so I have learned to accept. If you do not accept it will send you crazy, especially if you continue to think and ask ‘why me?’,” Winston said. A parting word of advice he gave is not to ignore changes in the body. “Do not self-medicate, get help from a doctor and do the necessary tests because your life could depend on it,” he said. firstname.lastname@example.org
WEDNESDAY WOMAN: There’s no stopping Hailli
HER PHYSICAL APPEARANCE is not the first that comes to mind when you hear of the condition multiple sclerosis (MS). She looks like the typical young woman in her 20s going about her life, work, friends and other daily activities with no obvious physical disability. However, Hailli Hewitt was diagnosed with remitting relapsing multiple sclerosis in 2011 after having had her first attack in 2010. It started with blurred vision, but she thought nothing of it since she wore contact lenses. She went for a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan but because of her braces, she did not have it at that time and her vision subsequently cleared up. However, her first official attack was to come a year later. To date the MS has only affected her eyes, albeit seriously, as at one point she was blind in both. An office manager for the last eight years at her father’s business, Premium Seafoods, Hailli said that even before her diagnosis, she remembered as a child she always had the feeling of “pins and needles” all the time. Her grandmother’s advice was that she needed to drink more water. Hailli is office manager in her father’s Premium Seafoods business. Growing up she lived a normal and carefree life, running around playing and engaging in sports. But with the onset of her vision problems, she realised that all was not right. “I did not know what it was, I could not explain it, but I just knew something was wrong. I had one attack after that (2011) and I have been in remission ever since,” Hewitt said. That attack caused a loss of sight, but thanks to the immediate medical care she received, it returned. “I woke up and it was like this wax paper was covering my eyes; I just could not see. I went straight to the doctor [and] it did not last a week. My vision is okay; it never came back 100 per cent, but it is still good.” On the day of her diagnosis, Hewitt recalled, there was plenty of anxiety, particularly for her relatives. “My family took it a lot harder than me. I don’t think it has actually hit me as yet, because I cannot complain; I still am quite normal. Still out and about partying, doing whatever I can – it definitely has not stopped me,” she proudly proclaimed. As a member of the MS Society of Barbados, she has met many people who have been affected by the illness and has realised there were many more than she thought. She has taken to social media and created a Facebook page called MS In Barbados. There she shares the stories of people with the illness. There are also articles of what’s happening in the MS community worldwide. It is because of this forum that she has developed international friendships. “The response has been phenomenal and there has been a lot of positive feedback helpful to people. When you are first diagnosed it can be very scary and depending on your personality, you can take it and kind of go into a state of depression. My family has been super supportive, so I never was able to go into that sad, woeful state.” Hailli Hewitt checking on supplies in the retail shop, which she runs. As for her prognosis, the doctors are not sure what will happen next. “You really do not know; it is completely unpredictable and it affects everyone differently,” Hewitt said, while adding that medications worked for some people but not for others. In terms of medical treatment, she said Barbados was many years behind since it was still on injections, which she administers herself at times. There are no pills through the Barbados Drug Service even though there are alternative treatments available. One of the challenges is the price of the medication, which can cost as much as $3 600 a month, which her parents had to buy after her diagnosis before they got assistance. “There are a lot of people out there who would like to get the medication . . . [but] to get to see the doctor at the QEH [Queen Elizabeth Hospital] is a whole day event.” She said that unfortunately that for many MS sufferers there was no alternative but to try and cope with the multiple challenges on their journey. Despite her health challenges, Hewitt maintains a cheerful and positive disposition. Her diagnosis means she has had to change her diet, eating more fruits and uncooked vegetables. She also pays close attention to her eyes which she checks daily as soon as she wakes up. She also tries to maintain a stress-free a lifestyle. Her daily routine includes office duties at the family business and she also runs the retail shop. “We usually do wholesale to hotels and restaurants but the shop allows people to come and purchase individual items. The shop is my little baby. This Article is Compliments the Nation Newspaper Author: email@example.com
Less talk, more action on behalf of the disabled
With the island’s economic ailments fully on the front burner in Parliament, rum shops and households, an important occasion is slipping by unnoticed. March is the Month of the Disabled, a special time for those remarkable members of our community who are more often than not taken for granted – and worse, discriminated against. For the Barbados Council of the Disabled, this year’s celebrations being held under the theme: Inclusion Matters: 40 years Towards Access and Empowerment take on even more significance as it marks four decades of service to its members and the wider society – an achievement that should be applauded. But more than the perfunctory pat on the back, members of the disabled community long for this country’s policymakers to deliver the promised gift of disabilities legislation – outstanding some four years after the island ratified the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. According to president of the Council, Maria Holder-Small, the legislation is a big deal for the community which represents five per cent of the Barbados population. “For inclusion of persons with disabilities to really matter, we must also have the necessary legislation enacted by the Government that would seek to demonstrate that tangible measures are being taken to include all Barbadians,” she remarked in the Council’s message. At the annual church service to mark the month-long celebrations of the disabled, Minister of Social Care Steve Blackett said the draft Bill was currently under consideration by Parliament. Not good enough, Mr Minister! The disabled community has waited long enough. This failure to set a timeline is shameful, particularly since a Bill of this nature invites bi-partisan support among parliamentarians and is likely to be passed without any drama. The delay also sends the wrong signal that the disabled really don’t matter. Nevertheless, the Bill has noble objectives. It is intended to reinforce and promote acceptance that a person with a disability has the same fundamental rights as any other Barbadian. As explained by Minister Blackett, it will address issues such as access to public facilities and services, education, employment, cultural life and support, to ensure that any current disadvantages faced by the disabled are eradicated. “It aims to codify in law those rights to which every person with disabilities is entitled, and to ensure that they are treated according to international benchmark,” he stated. Critical amendments are also to be made to current legislation, including the Road Traffic Act to address issues affecting parking for people with disabilities. This remains a major concern for members of the council who are often forced to put up with the annoying habit of thoughtless Barbadians who ignore clearly marked parking spaces assigned to members of the disabled community just for their own ease and comfort. A second significant provision is the proposed changes to Employment Rights (Prevention of Discrimination) Bill which seeks to encourage more employers to give a person with a disability an opportunity to earn a living. There are several qualified people with disabilities who have overcome tremendous odds to obtain their qualifications and it is an injustice that they are discriminated against. The fact is, technology has made it easier for persons with disabilities to easily integrate into the workforce and perform alongside their colleagues. Last but not least, improvements are to be made to the Building Standards Bill, which promotes the construction of buildings with adequate provisions for persons with disabilities. In a developing society like Barbados, accessibility is an important feature. People with limited mobility should be able to navigate through any thoroughfare without facing any obstacles. Clearly, this landmark legislation can go a long way to improve the lives of the disabled – all the more reason for its swift passage. A modern Barbados cannot be satisfied that it has failed to take steps to enhance the lives of this vulnerable group which can make meaningful contributions if only they are given a fair chance.
WEDNESDAY WOMAN: Faith despite blindness
“It happened July 1, 2009,” she said. “I will never forget that date. I went to bed early because I was having a bad headache and the Sunday morning I woke up my usual time to prepare for church, but I thought outside was very dark. I turned on the light and it was still dark so I thought the electricity was off.” Even after she went for her cell and could not see the mobile phone light, she was puzzled but did not think of the worst. “I was not thinking about loss of eyesight, nothing like that,” she said. “I do not know how to describe the feeling I felt in words; it was like someone knocked all the breath out of my lungs. I just fell to the floor rolling bout hollering and crying.” Yet, Applewhite, who is diabetic, said she always knew of the risk of blindness as a result of diabetic retinopathy, which is caused by high blood sugar levels damaging the back of the eye (retina). Because she had the condition, she always went for her optician’s appointment which showed that everything was normal on each occasion. Eight years on, Applewhite has found it hard to accept the loss of her sight and believes that God can restore it if He so chooses. “Full acceptance, no; I believe my eyesight will be restored in Jesus’ name,” she said. “Going back to that Sunday when I was rushed to the hospital and they did the tests, they were saying you will never see again. That is one conversation I will never forget as long I live; (the doctor) just ran off this long list of things I would never be able to do again; like if he was the hammer and I was the nail and he was driving the message home. I felt so bad then, that all I could do was cry, but now I know I serve a living God and in all things I give thanks.” Applewhite said the part that “kerfuffled” herwas that there were no symptoms or anything to indicate an eyesight problem. She ate what she considered a healthy diet and always went for medical check-ups. “Adjusting was the hardest part,” she said.“The first two years I cried every single day andgetting to wrap my mind around the idea of doing things differently. I have a daughter and a son.My daughter was eight years at the time and shewas a real trooper; she stepped up and helped me make the adjustment.” Applewhite and her daughter, as young asshe was, created a series of hand signals to aidmobility. For instance, they would walk holdinghands and if her daughter kept her hand flat, itwas flat road, when her hand dipped it meant tostep down and if it went up it meant to step upand so on. So when they were out in public, Applewhite did not have to use a cane. Mother and daughter would also put little “bumps” on the washing machine, microwave and push-button telephone so that Applewhite would still be able to use household appliances. Everything in the house has remained in the same position to allow her to get around with no issues. She had access to disability trainingwith the National Disabilities Unit a few months after her vision loss, but by then, shewas already gettingby, thanks to herdaughter. Cannot and never are some of the words that Applewhite chooses to keep out of her vocabulary. Because of her disability, people tend to say she cannot do certain things, but she is determined always to show them how wrong they are. She still goes totown, to the hospitaland doctor on her ownand is living life as normally as she can. She said her dayshave not changed much; the only thing she cannot do is read, but she still cooks, washes, cleans, takes the bus and doesher own shopping. Applewhite hasbecome very active in the Barbados National Organisation of the Disabled (BARNOD)and now serves as chairperson of education and public relations officer. “They say I talk a lot,” Applewhite said witha laugh. She serves onseveral other committees that keep her busy and active. In fact she isbusier than when shehad a job. Applewhite said she likes to push awareness of disabilities and when any new information is announced, she puts it in the public domain. “When we keep the public informed then people do not have to be saying, ‘oh I don’t know how to deal with them’. They realise that we are all the same we just do things differently,” she said. One of the major changes she has seensince she lost her sight is that she has not worked since. Having worked at a major bank in sales, Applewhite said shewould like to set up her own business. “I am not ruling out having an employer completely, but I do not think I can take the humps and grumps of working for someone.,” she said. “I am at the age where I want a more relaxed environment.” To anyone at the beginning stage of the journey towards vision loss, Applewhite’s advice is not to give up on life even though blindness might seem like a death sentence at first. “They can still live a full life,” she said. “You can do all the things you want to do; there are organisations that can help you adjust. Also, God is able and through faith, your sight can be restored.” This Article is Compliments the Nation Newspaper Author: firstname.lastname@example.org
WEDNESDAY WOMAN: 20 years fighting for the cause
FOR MORE THAN two decades, Rose-Ann Foster-Vaughan has been one of the strongest advocates for equal treatment of people with disabilities. It has been her cause over the 25 years since she joined and started working with organisations that work with the disabled. As administrative project officer with the Barbados Council for the Disabled (BCD) for roughly half of that time, she takes the lead on most of the organisation’s projects and lobbying efforts. After living what she called a fairly normal life growing up, Foster-Vaughan, who has cerebral palsy, said that when she left school she was introduced to the Barbados National Organisation of the Disabled (BARNOD). “Before I came into the movement I did not fully understand what people with disabilities had to go through because I was educated in the able-bodied schools,” she said. “I did not go to special schools and I came from a very supportive and enabling family. I had two very strong women, my mother and sister, and they always taught me that Rose-Ann you can do anything you want and to hell with anybody else who thinks otherwise.” It was against that backdrop that she got involved in the disability rights movement. Foster-Vaughan’s participation has helped her achieve some of her dreams. She was trained in administrative duties, thanks to BARNOD, and worked for a while with the national entity until she was offered full employment with the Barbados Workers’ Union (BWU) in its accounts department for eight years. “When I first went with them [BWU], I was temping for someone, and I got the impression that they did not want to give me much to do,” she said. “When persons with disabilities go into the course of open employment there is always hesitation. Can this persons do the job? How are the other employees going to interact with this person? But luckily for me, Sir Roy Trotman (then general secretary) said right away, ‘Let her do everything that the others are doing, expose her, let her find her way’.” As a result, she worked across the whole spectrum of the union. She decided to move on so she could work in a capacity where she could actively do more to help the disabled community. Since then she has been with the BCD. Foster-Vaughan said that her attendance at a regular school has given her a certain measure of independence and she was never afraid to take risks. Even though at school children made fun of her it never got to her, she said. Also she was always determined to have her personality shine through so that others are always forced to look at her as an individual, rather than focus on her disability. “When I get you to see me then you realise that this is an intelligent person you are talking to, not some giddy-headed, foolish girl,” she said. “People always have their perception. Once they see a physical disability they figure that your brain is disabled too but their brains work just fine.” Speaking of her personal situation, Foster-Vaughan said she was born in the breech position. It led to oxygen being cut off and as a result she lost some mobility due to cerebral palsy and spent several days in hospital. Her mother said she knew something was wrong from the first time she looked at her daughter, even though the doctors did not recognise anything. Mum embraced the journey, sent Foster-Vaughan to a regular school and she played with the children in the neighbourhood, pitched marbles and was a very active child. Her 12 years at the BCD have seen her look after all of its projects, one of the most recognised of which is the flagship Disability Sensitivity Training Workshop, a partnership with the Ministry of Labour “to let employers and their employees know that we are ordinary citizens”. There is also another project that is near and dear to her heart, the Sexual and Reproductive Health Programme for people with disabilities that started in 2008. She said she attended a forum hosted by the United Nations on youth and their vulnerabilities, but there was no talk about the disabled, so she had to rise to her feet and bring it to their attention that although they were talking about teenagers, gays and lesbians, it was the disabled who happened to be the most vulnerable. The UN therefore took on the challenge of helping the BCD to get a project in place catering to the disabled, and she even spearheaded a team that went to Jamaica to see its programme in action and to set up one that suited the Barbadian situation. Foster-Vaughan said participants not only get a better understanding of how their bodies work, but also learn about guarding their bodies against predators that may see them as easy targets. When the programme was up and running, officials did learn of a few cases of abuse, some involving family members, she said. Foster-Vaughan said that over the years there had been some improvements in the way others treated people with disabilities, but there was still a lot more work to be done. She said some people were still ashamed to let others know that they have a disabled person in the household. Consequently, she said, there was not a full count of the population of people with disabilities. She said right now the recorded number was about 14 000, but the actual figure was likely higher. She called for more Barbadians to embrace disability rights. “More hands make lighter work, more voices singing from the same hymn sheet are heard,” she said.
Message From President -MOD 2017
At the church service which opened our month of activities to commemorate the Month for the Disabled 2017, President of the Barbados Council for the Disabled Maria Holder Small gave the address which touched on matters very close to the hearts of many who are affected by disabilities. Below is Maria’s speech. “As we meet to celebrate another month of the disabled among esteemed persons like yourselves and the congregation present this morning, I am privileged to share with you as President of the Council the fact that the Council is celebrating 40 years of working on behalf of persons with disabilities. This is no easy accomplishment for a Non-Governmental organization (NGOs) such as the BCD as we continue to play major roles in collaborating with government and private sector in pushing for inclusion at the local level while being cognizant of the sustainable development goals at the international level. However, at the local level, the main NGO representing persons with disabilities such as the Barbados Council for the Disabled is seemingly attracting more international attention to issues facing accessibility in Barbados through our Fully Accessible Barbados (FAB) Program at a quicker pace than is being matched locally. This signifies that the Council is playing its part effectively in the tourism industry. With the support of one of our members, the Council has been collaborating with the Ministry of Labour and international agencies to address the issues of discrimination in the workplace for persons with disabilities. These are two key areas that we have been creating heightened awareness since the ratification of the Convention of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). The buzz being created from various sectors in terms of physical access and employment opportunities gives us some encouragement that we are making inroads; but it is not enough. For inclusion of persons with disabilities to really matter we must also have the necessary legislation enacted by our government that would seek to demonstrate that tangible measures are being taken to include all Barbadians. Having been involved in discussions that have led to the development of Draft Legislation for four Bills dealing with the issues that affect persons with disabilities and their inclusion in this society, the Council and its members are still waiting for our policy makers to determine when INCLUSION MATTERS. In the meantime, for persons with disabilities… INCLUSION WILL MATTER…until the proposed Persons with Disabilities Bill which seeks to give the Convention of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities the force of the law in Barbados. INCLUSION WILL MATTER…until persons with disabilities have access to public facilities, amenities and services INCLUSION WILL MATTER…until persons with disabilities have access to Public Transportation. INCLUSION WILL MATTER … until persons with disabilities have ACCESS to EEDUCATION, EMPLOYMENT, HEALTH, INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY, and CULTURAL LIFE. INCLUSION WILL MATTER…until it is an offense to discriminate against persons with disabilities. INCLUSION WILL MATTER … until the Road Traffic Act Cap 295 which addresses issues affecting Parking for Persons with Disabilities has been amended. We owe this not only to those over 12,500 persons who took the time to sign a petition asking government to enact this one simple provision that the rest of society enjoys, but we owe it to all Barbadians with Disabilities who are prevented from inclusion to access many services by this ONE ACT. As the President of the Council, I take this opportunity to thank the government for the support provided to the Council to administer its work; but I also want to encourage the government to not let the work of the Council over the past forty years be in vain. As we continue to grapple with local and international challenges, I call on the government to continue to work closely with the Council and let us demonstrate to persons with disabilities in a tangible way that Inclusion Matters.“
CTUSAB wants jobs for the disabled
The umbrella body of labour unions here has embarked on a year-long programme to secure employment for the disabled. The Congress of Trade Unions and Staff Associations of Barbados (CTUSAB) today announced that it was partnering with the National Council for the Disabled, the National Disability Unit and the Barbados National Organization of the Disabled on the initiative that would help people with disabilities achieve a certain level of independence. “The CTUSAB proposed to work in collaboration with the stakeholders in promoting the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. It is intended that emphasis will be placed on the aspects of education and awareness,” General Secretary Dennis De Peiza told a news conference this morning to launch the programme dubbed Employment of Workers with Disabilities. De Peiza said he expected the initiative to result in greater acceptance of all persons with disabilities, and in so doing, lead to them being given equal opportunities to develop their skills and talents and to access promotional opportunities in the workplace without prejudice or reservation. The trade union leader also said the organization would like employers to develop a greater appreciation for workers with disabilities, and the general public to recognize that the disabled possess the same productive potential as everyone else. He added that in the absence of statistical evidence, “it may not be so apparent that the work of disabled persons is to be found in every sector of employment in Barbados”. Therefore, he called on the Ministry of Labour to provide labour market information on the number of persons with disabilities who are seeking employment, as well as the number of those who work. The CTUSAB head revealed that a number of activities would be held this year, beginning with a workshop on April 11 under the theme Empowering and Engaging Workers with Disabilities, followed by a fun and health walk on National Heroes Day, April 28. A national symposium is also scheduled for July 13 and 14 and the curtains will come down with a show in November featuring workers with disabilities. Article Compliments: Barbados Today
A Rose for Accessible Barbados
Measuring a compact 21 x 14 mile, Barbados is a neatly package bundle of variety with something different around every corner. Whether a random exploring adventure or a planned visit to some attractions, the island provides a compelling range of scenic surprises, a fascinating history and rich architectural heritage, and a chance to interact with people who are considered to be among the friendliest in the world. It’s a fact, accessibility is not inherent, throughout the Caribbean due in some part to the impediments of natural terrain and standing styles of architecture. Also a fact, accessibility for Tourist with physical disabilities really hasn’t been much of a concern to the keepers of the tourism industry in these nations either. But that is changing. And that change is trending upward, literally, from the vision and yeoman work in one of the Caribbean’s most southern islands – Barbados – to the archipelago’s northern nations, particularly the Bahamas. And it all began with all Rose… Read the full Article Here
National Games Kicks Off with Football
Barbados Special Olympics footballers have a proud reputation to uphold, having captured the silver medal in the 2015 Special Olympics World Games in Los Angeles, California. Some of those same athletes will be in action this Monday, February 3 in the Special Olympics National Games Football Tournament as they join team members from their own schools or special units. The football competition, which takes place at 9:00 am at the National Sports Council Blenheim Grounds in St. Michael, will open the Special Olympics Barbados 2017 National Games schedule. In the Junior Division, the Ellerton Special Unit will be hoping to repeat as champions, but they face formidable challenges from the All Saints Special Unit, the Charles F. Broome Special Unit, the Eagle Hall Special Unit, the Ellerton Special Unit, the Erdiston Special School and St. Matthews. For many of these young athletes, this will be their first opportunity to show family, friends and the nation their accomplishments in sports. In the Senior Division, the Alma Parris School will defend its title against strong competition from the Ann Hill School, the Challenor Creative Arts and Training Centre, the Derrick Smith School and Vocational Centre, the Learning Centre and the Special Olympics Outreach Programme. It is in the Senior Division, where many of the athletes who played in the Special Olympics World Games will demonstrate the skills that led them to victory in international competition. The Special Olympics National Games schedule continues on March 3 with the Track and Field Preliminary Meet at the Carlton Sports Club, Black Rock. Athletes who qualify at the preliminary meet will move on the biggest annual event on the organisation’s calendar, the Special Olympics National Games Track and Field Finals which take place March 24 at the Carlton Sports Club. The track and field events are held each year in conjunction with March the Month of the Disabled. Athletes will take part in Special Olympics Barbados National Games championships throughout the year with competition in bocce, the bowling game of Roman and African origin, planned for April 9. The attention turns to cricket on May 19 with the Special Olympics National Games Cricket Championship at the National Sports Council Blenheim Grounds. On June 9, intellectually disabled athletes will make a big splash at the Aquatic Centre in the Special Olympics National Games Aquatics Meet. All Special Olympics events are free of charge, and Barbados is invited to come and cheer intellectually disabled children and adults as they expand their capabilities in the setting of exciting, joyful and memorable competition.
United Nations Day for Persons with Disabilities – Address by Maria Holder Small.
Ms. Maria Holder President of the Barbados Council for the Disabled, addresses the Nation and the world on the topic of persons with disabilities, as we celebrate the United Nations Day for Persons with Disabilities. Watch the video on our Facebook page.
CTO urges equal access to tourism industry for the disabled
The Barbados-based Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) has made a plea for persons living with disabilities to be able to gain equal access and flourish within the tourism industry in the region. In a message marking World Tourism Day 2016 on Tuesday, CTO Secretary General Hugh Riley said as a region, it is important to be aware that accessibility in tourism is a shared responsibility, which warrants consistent and conscientious effort by all parties involved in the tourism value chain to tourism. “This requires that countries and destinations – and the industry as a whole – promote accessibility for all in the physical environment, in transport systems, in tourist and business facilities and in the availability of services and opportunities” He said that the CTO was identifying with this year’s theme of ‘Tourism for All – Promoting Universal Accessibility’ since it reminds all stakeholders of “the need to ensure that all persons, including those living with disabilities, have equal access to tourism experiences, tourism business opportunities and employment in the industry”. He said furthermore, the CTO was encouraging its members to invest in the necessary training, improvements to infrastructure and facilities and adoption of the new information communication technologies which are available and can contribute to enhancing both business and destination competitiveness. “We believe that making tourism more accessible is a moral and social responsibility which speaks to the need to treat everyone with due courtesy, care and consideration. “We are also confident that the benefits to be gained by countries and businesses that embrace the accessibility for all philosophy, far outweigh the required investments and will result in added value and a competitive advantage in the global tourism market. And it is simply the right thing to do. “ Riley said that making tourism more accessible means creating the opportunity for any individual, regardless of his or her physical limitation, circumstance or age, to function independently and with dignity and respect, by making available appropriately designed tourism facilities, attractions and environments. “It also requires a zero tolerance policy on discrimination, prejudice or abuse both in relation to the delivery of services to guests and in the management and treatment of staff,” he said, adding “in our commitment to position ourselves to be the world’s most desirable year round, warm weather destination, our attention must be focused on the needs of every citizen and every traveler, as we work to make the Caribbean truly accessible for all.” This article is compliments Caribbean Broadcasting Corporation
New Training and Life Opportunities for the Intellectually Disabled
Persons 18 years of age and older who have intellectual disabilities are being invited to apply to participate in life and occupational skills training that could lead to richer and fuller lives and greater inclusion in our society. They are capable of far more than most people assume, but systems must be in place in the society if they are to reach their full potential. Those essential systems are getting a substantial improvement as the result of the European Union funded expansion of the Special Olympics Barbados Outreach and Skills Training Programme. The Outreach and Skills Training Programme has been in operation since 2001, providing older Special Olympic athletes with a bridge to the wider community through life skills, cultural and occupational training. As a result of funding from the European Union, beginning in September, the programme, which has met on Saturdays at the St. Leonards School, will be expanded to four days a week. The programme will also find a new home in a dedicated location in the Harbour Industrial Park owned by the Barbados Investment and Development Corporation. The expanded Outreach and Skills Training Programme, which is open to person 18 years of age and older with intellectual disabilities, who are not currently enrolled in programmes or institutions serving the intellectually disabled, will provide a variety of training opportunities. The initial syllabus includes instruction in English, Mathematics, Life Skills, Vocational Skills and Computer Studies on weekdays. Saturday classes, which are open to individuals enrolled in other programmes and institutions, will focus on the Visual Arts and Performing Arts. The Special Olympics Barbados Outreach and Skills Training Programme will progressively expand in the future to include areas such as horticulture, agriculture, business development and entrepreneurship. Applicants accepted into the programme will be registered as Special Olympic athletes and must complete required medical forms. Application for the programme can be made on the organisation’s web site at www.specialolympicsbarbados.org or weekdays from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm at the Special Olympics Office, Arbor House, #23 James Street, Bridgetown. The required medical form is only available at the Special Olympics Office. Due to the limited number of open positions in the programme, interested persons, parents and guardians are urged to apply without delay.
Working to help those with MS
MULTIPLE SCLEROSIS (MS) is a condition that is not widely talked about in Barbados. Its impact though is no small issue. That was a reality that hit home for Maria Holder-Small following her diagnosis with the condition ten years ago. For the last four years she has been using a wheelchair or motorised scooter to get around and at one point had lost the vision in her left eye. Holder-Small, who is president of the Barbados Council for the Disabled, has become an advocate for MS awareness as well as the cause of people with disabilities. She said the disorder was very difficult to diagnose because of its many neurological symptoms, so she spent six months undergoing test after test and thousands of dollars without getting a diagnosis. “It started with an unsteady gait, where I would be walking and think I am walking straight and then I would get comments like ‘Maria you did drinking last night; so early this morning and you drunk’. We would pass it off as a joke, but I was not even aware that I was walking unsteadily,” Maria said. Frequent falls The condition progressed to a point where even when she was undergoing tests she started having frequent falls while at work and at that time she and her husband and family were desperately trying to find out what was going on. However, she was fortunate enough to get in contact with a Texas-based doctor of Barbadian parentage and was getting ready to fly up for a consultation but it happened that the doctor had to visit Barbados and saw Maria while here. In one afternoon, Maria would have her diagnosis. As someone who had never heard of MS before, it was a real learning experience for her, but she said that when she reflected on her childhood and young adulthood there were telltale signs all along. Maria used to experience severe back pains even though she had not played sport or been very active. However, she said other than that her childhood was normal; she never used to be sick other than with the common cold. Even in her job as a supervisor she seldom had a sick day. But that was about to change. “When you are working for a company for a period of time and you can no longer give that amount, you become the liability so the sick leave had my boss worried,” Maria said. She would later be declared medically unfit for work. Going from someone who was active and working to a wheelchair user was a difficult transition for Maria, who drew on her faith, family and friends to help in the transition. “If you do not have persons there to give you that support I can see where the depression would set in,” she said. She and her husband Steven will celebrate their 19th wedding anniversary this year. She said the longevity of their marriage was proof that some people really mean it when they make the vow “for better or worse, in sickness and health”. Even with all the support, one of the biggest changes for Maria was giving up driving. She loved to drive and had her licence from the time she was a teen. Multiple sclerosis, as the name suggests, impacts multiple organs and parts of the body. It is a lifelong condition that affects the central nervous system (the brain and spinal cord), and affects different people in different ways. Maria said: “The question is not what it affects, but what does it not affect? It affects a single area of your body but what affects one person would not necessarily affect another.” In the Multiple Sclerosis Society of Barbados Maria said there are people who cannot see, some who cannot walk, and some with cognitive problems, memory loss and vocal challenges. For Maria, she has lost sensation in her legs, and can no longer stand up. No joy sitting in chair For years Maria said she fought having to use a wheelchair. She used a cane, then moved to a quad pod, to a rollator, to a walker and now her motorised scooter. “For me it is not a joy sitting in this chair; the sidewalks, kerbs and access to stores make doing business in Barbados very difficult,” she said. “That makes me feel like I am excluded, my money is not important. I would like to think that access should be for all. The time you take to build a step you can make it a ramp.” Six years ago, through optic neuritis she lost her vision in left eye but it returned in over a year. Admittedly Maria has had those moments when she pondered her lot, but she has never wallowed in self-pity. “It did come but I never allowed it to obsess me what I spent so much time on trying to say why me that I let it get me down,” she said. “In one moment I asked: ‘Why this? Why now?’ I had just finished a course and had applied to pursue a bachelor’s degree In human resource management, so for me, it was a huge blow.” Maria said she would use her experience to show others that they should never give up. “I always say, hold you head up the rain will not always fall, the sun will come out.” This article is compliments the Nation News Paper Article Written by LISA KING
WEDNESDAY WOMAN: Des’ heart in the kitchen
FOR MANY YEARS Desiree Hinds was ashamed to reveal she had cerebral palsy. She was afraid that in a society where disabilities were not readily embraced that she would be something of an outcast. Her condition is not acute but it leaves her with impaired motor skills and she has problems with her balance. Her teachers have described Desiree as being very bright. The 29-year-old has been a student of The Challenor Creative Arts and Training Centre for about ten years in the food preparation class learning to make meals for herself as well as her family. But that is not the only side to Hinds; she is a golfer who represented Barbados at the Special Olympics World Games last year in Los Angeles and placed fourth. She also has part-time employment at Unlimited Collections, a clothing and variety store in Bridgetown. Her choice to pursue studies in food preparation was born out of a love of cooking. Desiree has dreams of becoming a chef and opening a food establishment. By the end of the next school year, she would have completed the programme at the school. “I can see myself in the kitchen being a chef, but I will still continue to play golf. I can do all of that,” she said. The programme, which also takes on the Caribbean Vocational Qualification format, will certify that Desiree has the skills that can get her qualified. The course includes knife skills and different cooking techniques. “It is basically the same thing that is taught at the Barbados Community College’s Hospitality Institute but at a slower pace,” she explained. Through her involvement with the Challenor School, Desiree was placed at the Waterfront Café where she worked two days a week prior to its closing. On her other love, golf, she said that though she had only been playing for one year, her skills were developed enough to represent Barbados at the last World Games. She is now preparing for the next games. For that she spends two hours a week on the greens at the Barbados Golf Club in Durants, Christ Church. “For me it was a good experience because I met friends there and I met other athletes. I brought home a fourth place ribbon. And I am practising hard for the next games so I can do better this year,” Desiree said, while admitting that training had been hard but the coach was very encouraging. Part of her duties at Unlimited Collections includes putting out stock, assisting customers or as a sales person, and she has no issues on the job. This she put down to the owner and other colleagues all having some kind of disability. That was not always the case as Desiree said she faced treatment which made her very uncomfortable. “Sometimes I am ashamed to say what my disability is. I do not want people to laugh at me because some people make fun of me,” she said, while calling on people to stop discriminating. “Stop discriminating against us and do not make us feel ashamed of ourselves,” she advised. “We understand each other and anytime I am down, my friends are there for me and I am there for them as well,” she said of her former schoolmates at the Challenor, St James Composite and The Learning Centre. She has learnt over time to handle the disability. “When I was a little girl I would tremble a lot. I still have problems now in the kitchen because my hands still tremble, but I learned techniques to deal with that and not cause injury to myself.” For a long time, she said, she questioned God about why she was born with the illness but recognised that God had a reason. Now Desiree is determined to show others with disabilities that they can pursue their dreams in spite of a long tough road.
WEDNESDAY WOMAN: All uphill from here
WHEN RACQUEL SPRINGER started to lose her sight, she thought her life was over. That could not have been further from the truth. Springer eventually found the Barbados Association for the Blind and Deaf and today she remarks, “it has all gone uphill from there”. Springer has advanced keratoconus, a progressive eye disease in which the normally round cornea thins and begins to bulge into a cone-like shape. This cone shape deflects light as it enters the eye on its way to the light-sensitive retina, causing distorted vision. Since the diagnosis, she pursued the Caribbean Examinations Council’s Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate and passed four, including English A and office procedures at Grade I. She is currently doing information technology using computer software specially designed for the visually impaired and blind. “I thought I would not even get one CXC,” she said. “I was done school for many years, and as a big woman with children I thought that opportunity had gone but when I came [to the association], the surroundings and the environment were good for me. The members do not let you give up, no matter what.” Springer, who has sight in one eye, said she had an operation in June last year so the vision in the right eye is much better than before, but she is waiting for a corneal graft on her left eye, which she can barely see out of. Without her glasses everything is blurred, and before the surgery she could see shapes and figures only. From the time Springer, who is now 40, was in secondary school she always had problems with her eyes, but her condition went undiagnosed for many years since it was dismissed as a virus. “My eyes would water a lot and I would go to the polyclinic and they would give me eye drops and told me I had a virus,” she said. “They never really dug deeper.” She noted that even though her eyes were always runny and she rubbed them a lot it did not affect her at school as she could see the chalkboard. In fact, she said she did not think of it as a disability: “I felt I was normal.” It was not until 2000 that she received her diagnosis. By that time her condition was at an advanced stage and she had her first corneal transplant in 2012. Last year she had a cataract removed. Springer was forced to give up her job as a cashier/gas attendant when the doctors told her not to continue. “It threw me into denial,” she said. “To know, here I am, a person that could see all my life and then to know my sight was deteriorating as time went by. It made me sad and depressed so I did not go anywhere; I just stayed in the house every day.” It was in 2012 that a friend had the foresight to sign Springer up with the National Disabilities Unit, from where she was put on to the Barbados Association for the Blind and Deaf. “I did not see myself as disabled,” she said. “I was really upset when [the officer] signed me up. But I was judging it before I even got involved.” Springer said the chance to interact with people going through similar or other challenges was a blessing. Seeing blind people manoeuvring on their own, catching the bus, cooking and living alone inspired her. “I thought, ‘Well, if that person is blind and can do so much, what about me who can still see?’” No equal opportunities Springer has her eyes set on becoming a secretary or office assistant as she wants to put her qualifications to use. Failing that, she wants to get into counselling. She recently did an internship at the association and is hoping to get an opportunity through the job preparation programme of the Barbados National Organisation of the Disabled. “We do not have equal opportunities and that is a problem,” she said. “Employers see you more as a liability rather than an asset.” More academic qualifications are also in the works for Springer, who wants to move onto the full range of tertiary level institutions available on the island. There are many things that Springer now does that she never pictured herself doing and she knows there are many more she will go on to do. “Even sitting to be interviewed here is something I would have never done. I am a lot more confident now.” Springer also said that she had always felt uncomfortable about her size and was pressured about it from the time she was in school. She has now made a personal vow that, “It is all about me now. No matter what people may think or say, I want to better myself.” Springer, the mother of four – daughters aged 19 and 17 and 15-year-old twin boys – said her children have helped her to reach this stage. In return she uses her life experience to show them that nothing is too hard. This article is compliments the Nation News Paper Article written by : Lisa King
WEDNESDAY WOMAN: Carrying fight for disabled
WITHOUT A DOUBT, her face is one that readily comes to mind when you speak of championing the cause of the disabled in Barbados. She is Roslyn Hurley, special envoy for people with disabilities. But that was not always the case with Hurley, who is the former president of Barbados National Organisation of the Disabled (BARNOD). in fact, Hurley said she was very much against getting involved in the disabled community in the first place. “When I was younger I did not see the need to join the disabled movement. I thought I had a normal life and a group of family and friends to support me, so I did not see the disability. I did not want to be in the disabled community,” Hurley admitted. But in 1997 she joined the disabled movement. “It was just to see what it was all about,” she said. She was thrust into a leadership position shortly after she joined. And she has gone all over the world representing Barbados on behalf of the disabled community. Hurley was diagnosed with cerebral palsy in her early years. Delivered foot first, she was oxygen-deprived and she was not breathing properly. She suffers a speech impediment and walks with the assistance of a walker. Nonetheless, Hurley said she grew up in a regular household and was treated like a “normal child”. “My mother always told me she did not give birth to a child with a disability so I was treated like my brother and sister,” Hurley said. The only difference was that she attended a small private school in the Worthing, Christ Church area where she lived, while her older brother and a younger sister went to a primary school. Not easy Hurley said it was not easy because she did not have any special privileges and her formal education ended at the primary school level because she was not allowed to sit the 11-Plus examination. She would go on to do some courses with continuing studies at the now defunct Roebuck School. She also learned some craft skills, including pottery and macramé. As special envoy, Hurley said she works across the gamut of agencies that cater to people with disabilities. She is a member of the Barbados Council for the Disabled (BCD), deeply involved with the National Disabilities Unit and works closely with groups such as the blind and deaf, New Life Deaf Club and other associated groups. Hurley also gained popularity on a radio call-in programme, but she said many times she refused the urge to call because of the public backlash and criticism she received. But Hurley maintained that she only joined the discussion on topics that really mattered to her. Therefore, Hurley has set as her major goal to get the wider public to see the human that is inside people with disabilities and work with the human that is inside. “Somebody saw the human in me and let me have a chance. Somebody saw that something special and allowed me the opportunity to represent Barbados as far as the United Nations. I have been to Korea to represent Barbados. “Do not mind my speech impediment. I can speak to any audience anywhere and represent the cause of the disabled.” Another issue dear to Hurley is the personal development of the young disabled. She is especially happy about the Shine Like A Diamond pageant in which ten persons with disabilities will compete later this month. To the naysayers, one of whose comments “What queen and king pageant they need? They should be somewhere making baskets” has stuck in her mind, Hurley said there is much more to the disabled than that. She urges everyone to see the human inside and not the disability. Article Compliments Nation News
WEDNESDAY WOMAN: It’s no easy road
BY THE AGE OF TEN, Sandra White-Belgrave had been knocked down by vehicles on three occasions. The first accident when she was two-and-a-half years old caused serious head injuries and damaged her hearing. She now wears a hearing aid. “My parents took me to a picnic; they said they put me in the car to sit while they went to get me something to eat, but instead of staying in the car I was so anxious to get on the beach that I got out,” Sandra said. “In no time they heard this car screech and that was it.” She was rushed to the hospital and underwent emergency surgery to relieve severe swelling to her head. Her hearing loss was not immediately recognised, but when Sandra started school it was observed that her speech was slow and she was not picking up things as readily as children her age should. The other accidents at age seven and nine were not as serious. However, Sandra is convinced that her great-grandmother’s road safety advice was a contributory factor in her early accident-proneness. She said her great-grandma took the road safety rule of “look up and look down before crossing the road” literally and would chide her when she looked left and right, and that may have had a role in her being knocked down on those two occasions and almost a third, had it not been for her mother’s intervention. “When I see parents telling children to look up and down before they cross the road, I always tell them ‘no, it is left and right’,” Sandra said. Even though she could have gone to a special needs school, her parents were adamant that she receive her education in a mainstream school. She attended Sharon Primary School and recounted her schooldays as “a not-so-good experience”, mainly because she got into a lot of fights that were the result of children teasing her and calling her names. Over time she became very withdrawn. “I refused to socialise with people, even into my secondary school years at Springer Memorial I was always a loner,” she said. “I hated wearing the hearing aid because everyone was just staring at that clumsy thing so I stopped wearing it. You do not want to be left out so sometimes you may not understand what they say you just agree with them, but over time I developed my own way of communicating with people.” Sandra said she had no special classes at school, and was treated not as deaf but as hard of hearing. She would go on to gain CXCs and higher level certificates. In terms of employment, Sandra worked in many capacities at her family’s auto business, Whites Corporation. She also held different jobs but said that people would take advantage of her and she would end up doing more than her job description. Added to that, she was not paid on par with other workers. She admitted that it was a very long journey to accept who she was and she finally came into herself as an adult when she stopped being so conscious of the way other people perceived her. Even though she did not want to join the New Life Deaf Club initially, she is now the secretary, working very closely with the president Lionel Smith. Because she can hear, she straddles both hearing and deaf worlds. She said the club had a lot of challenges especially because of the different categories of deaf based on the level of hearing; hard of hearing, hearing impaired, deaf. She said the biggest challenge was communication and understanding the dynamics of the deaf, who have their own language and culture. Therefore, Sandra said she and the president were leading by example and pursuing educational qualifications and self-development initiatives. “He has a driver’s licence and they know so can they; he has gone back to school and we are telling them that they can too,” Sandra said. “I find that the deaf community are always left out in translating of communications. Beside the Caribbean Broadcasting Corporation’s Evening News sign language interpreter, most often there is no other news that is translated,” she said. Sandra is married with three children. Her eldest daughter is a doctor, a son is a supervisor at a local hotel while her 13-year-old daughter is a student of The Lodge School. This article is compliments: The Nation News Paper Article written by : Lisa King
Barbados Special Olympics Coming Soon
Following their stunning performances at the 2015 Los Angeles Special Olympics World Games, athletes are training and practicing for what is the biggest series of events on the local Special Olympics calendar, the Special Olympics Barbados National Games. Barbadian sports fans will have the opportunity to see, in action, the athletes who won 8 gold, 5 silver and 4 bronze medals in the international competition involving 6,500 participants from 165 countries. The action in athletics (track and field) begins on February 24 at the Carlton Cricket Club with the Special Olympics Barbados National Games Track and Field Preliminaries and culminates with the Special Olympics Barbados National Games Track and Field Finals at the Carlton Club on March 4. The Track and Field Finals are traditionally held during March, the Month of the Disabled. Barbados track and field athletes captured gold, silver and bronze medals at the World Games. The Special Olympics Barbados National Games Aquatics Meet is scheduled for March 11 at the Aquatics Centre in Wildey. Barbados swimmers came away from the World Games with a gold medal and a 4th place relay finish. National Games competitions in other sports disciplines will be held later in the year. The Special Olympics Barbados National Games Cricket Championship is set for April 22. TheSpecial Olympics National Games Football Championship is scheduled for September 30, featuring many of the members of the Barbados team which won a silver medal at the World Games. National Games events in bocce and golf will be held at dates to be determined. All Special Olympics sports events are free of charge. The public is warmly welcome to attend and cheer on intellectually disabled athletes as they display their many accomplishments. Check out our schedule of events !
Fight for your rights, disabled told
Executive Director of the Barbados Family Planning Association (BFPA), Juliette Bynoe-Sutherland has issued a call to activism within the disabled community, as a group of 20 disabled women begin a three-week training programme on mental strengthening and awareness. The programme is being held by the Women’s Institute on Leadership and Disability (WILD) Barbados in collaboration with the BFPA and the Barbados Council for the Disabled. “For many years we’ve been talking and sensitising around issues of disability in Barbados, and some progress has been made … but there are so many issues that remain at the level of discussion and people articulating, general platitudes. We need more activism, more assertiveness,” Bynoe-Sutherland said. She also encouraged course participants to begin claiming their rights, noting that the disabled have human rights too. WILD Barbados is based on a Mobility International USA initiative that is being led here by certified trainer, Rose-Ann Foster Vaughn. An aim of WILD is to empower young girls and women with disabilities on their rights, as outlined by the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities as well as to develop their personal image, capacity building and leadership skills. “Think as you go through this exercise about the issues, about asserting yourself, about legal cases, about making petitions to government departments and businesses who are not responsive to issues. “Use this workshop to stimulate your advocacy as other groups are asserting their rights … to raise awareness we must unite and press hard for what we want,” Bynoe-Sutherland said. She assured the participants that the BFPA is an ally of the disabled in their struggle for recognition and equal treatment, adding that among the association’s aims is to empower persons with disabilities in matters related to sexual health. “A lot of people are not aware that we have set aside an examination room and theatre that is wheelchair accessible. “Our facilities are not only disability friendly but our staff have been sensitised to disability issues. We don’t ask why you want to be sexually active, or why do you desire to have a pregnancy – we focus on how your needs can be facilitated,” Bynoe-Sutherland said.
Painting Disabled Parking Bay
Long before the development of the Fully Accessible Barbados (FAB) brand in 2005, the Council has witnessed one particular issue which has emerged as paramount to accommodating Persons with Disabilities conducting their daily affairs –The indiscriminate parking by persons in spaces allocated for persons with disabilities. In addressing this important concern of the abuse of designated parking bays allocated by businesses for their clients with disabilities, the Barbados Council for Disabilities is partnering with the Kiwanis’s Club Pride of Barbados to design a campaign which will seek to: Create awareness and encourage businesses to include or upgrade Disabled Parking Bays to the correct specification, a service which will be supported by the Kiwanis. Conduct an educational and distribution drive of the Parking IDs to the general public
New Bus for BCD
On Saturday 10 October 2015, the Barbados Council for the Disabled became the proud new owners of a brand new bus donated by the Trustees of The Maria Holder Memorial Trust. On hand were Mr. Christopher Holder and Mr. Chesterfield Brewster, along with Ms. Donna Clarke – Project Administrator of TMHMT. Once again our members and staff have been blessed through this act of kindness and on the behalf of all those who will benefit from the usage of this bus, we say Thank You !
Blessed by kind Generosity
The Barbados Council for the Disabled continues to be blessed by the kind generosity of the Barbados Overseas Nurses Association (BONA) based in the United Kingdom. Over BONA’s three (3) year of partnering with the Council, funds donated have been channeled into Programs which benefited Children with Disabilities. These Programs included Our Accessible School makeover and Transport Program which is made available to Children with Disabilities to and from school. This year’s presentation will once again go towards making a child’s dream a reality of being able to access education. Photo: Mrs. Roseanna Tudor (far left), Mrs. Emily Lynch (below left) Barbados Council of the Disabled (BCD), Mrs. Isalene Carter, Ms. Julia Alleyne, Members of the Barbados Overseas Nurse Association, Mrs. Maria Holder-Small (center)- President and Staff (BCD), Mrs. Roseanne Foster-Vaughn (BCD).
Honoring a Stalwart
Mrs. Dorien Pile is one of those rare humanitarians who depicts the ethic of kindness, benevolence and empathy that extends universally and impartially to all human beings who crosses her path. The Barbados Council for the Disabled is indebted to this remarkable woman who has played an important role in crafting the successful journey of the Council on behalf of persons with disabilities in Barbados. We Thank You…Dorien Pile
Welcome Home, Special Olympics Team
The Special Olympics Barbados team had a wonderful experience at the 2015 Los Angeles Special Olympics World Games. In addition to making Barbados proud by capturing 8 gold, 5 silver and 4 bronze medals, the athletes became unofficial ambassadors for their country. Everywhere they went in California, whether it was the host town of El Segundo, the athlete village at the University of California Los Angeles or the athlete village at the University of Southern California, they were greeted by cheers, hugs and people who wanted to know more about the tiny Caribbean island that produced so many gifted athletes. Barbados has an opportunity to show its pride and its appreciation for their accomplishments and what the athletes did to focus the spotlight on the nation. The Barbados team arrived at the Grantley Adams International Airport at 9:00 pm on Monday, August 3, and Barbadians are invited to extend the celebration of Grand Kadooment by going to the airport to welcome home the Special Olympics Barbados athletes. A big welcome home from Barbados will be the perfect culmination of what has been a triumphant experience for the intellectually disabled athletes of Special Olympics Barbados.
Barbados Swimmers Hope to Make a Big Splash
Ranging in age from eleven to seventeen years, the Barbados aquatics athletes headed to the 2015 Los Angeles Special Olympics World Games are young. However, age is certainly not a concern at the competition, which will run from July 25 through August 2. In Special Olympics, intellectually disabled athletes in every sport and event are grouped by age, gender, and ability, giving everyone a reasonable chance to win. At Special Olympics events, there are no world records because each athlete, whether in the fastest or the slowest division is valued and recognized equally. In every division, all athletes receive an award, from gold, silver, and bronze medals, to fourth through eighth-place ribbons. Although the four Special Olympics Barbados swimmers are almost certain to, at least, return home with ribbons, they want medals, and they have been training hard under the direction of head coach Adele Price to reach that goal. Eleven year old Abbygaile Mayers will compete in the 25 metre backstroke, 25 metre freestyle and the 4-by-25 metre relay. Kofi Cadogan, who is 14 years old, will swim in the 25 metre backstroke, 25 metre freestyle and the 4-by-25 metre relay. At 16 years of age, Jay-Tee Brathwaite, will speed down the pool lanes in the 50 metre backstroke, 50 metre freestyle and the 4-by-25 metre relay. The senior member of the Special Olympics Barbados team is 17 year-old Dion Ellyatt, who will compete in the 50 metre backstroke, 100 metre freestyle and will join her team members for the 4-by-25 metre relay. Special Olympics Barbados is sending a team of 26 athletes to the Los Angeles Special Olympics World Games, which will be the biggest sports and humanitarian event in the world in 2015. In addition to aquatics, Barbados athletes will compete in athletics (track and field) bocce, golf and soccer (seven-a-side football). The World Games will attract 7,000 athletes from 177 countries, and Barbados athletes will be among them. Corporate supporters and individuals, who wish to help in the effort to send a Barbados team to the Special Olympics World Games, can do so by donating to the “Digicel Road to the World Games Fund” at CIBC First Caribbean Bank, account number 1001111009. *Photo caption: “Special Olympics aquatics athletes Dion Ellyatt (front), Abbygaile Mayers (left), Kofi Cadogan (center) and Jay-Tee Brathwaite (right) display the “Circle of Inclusion and Acceptance”, symbol of the 2015 Special Olympics World Games.”
Prison Officer Joins the Relay Run
On Monday, July 13, the Law Enforcement Torch Run Final Leg for the Special Olympics World Summer Games set off from the State Capital Building in Sacramento, California. Among the 126 runners from 23 countries, making the trek across California to the Opening Ceremony of the 2015 Special Olympics World Summer Games in Los Angeles, is Barbados Prison Officer Victor Carter. Carter, who has been a Special Olympics Barbados volunteer since 1995, says “I am so blessed and fortunate to be working with the athletes, who are truly special in every sense…The love that these amazing athletes give you back in return warms my heart and makes me know that this is my true calling.” In addition to his duties teaching horticulture and landscaping to inmates at Her Majesty’s Prison Dodds, Victor Carter is a Special Olympics Barbados bocce official and is currently completing a Special Olympics bocce coaching course for the bowling game of African and Italian origin. The first stage of the Law Enforcement Torch Run Final Leg started on May 14, when the Flame of Hope, the official torch for the 2015 Los Angeles Special Olympics World Games, was lit at the Sacred Site of Pnyx, opposite the Acropolis in Athens, Greece, formally beginning its journey to the World Games. After a flight to the United States, the flame was carried through all 50 states and the District of Columbia as a part of the historic Special Olympics Unified Relay Across America presented by Bank of America. At the conclusion of the Unified Relay, the Flame of Hope was handed over to the 2015 Los Angeles Final Leg Team, and it was on its way, for 17 days, to more than 125 cities and towns throughout California, honoring the spirit of the Special Olympics global movement and delivering a message of hope to communities where people with intellectual disabilities continue to fight for acceptance and inclusion. The Flame of Hope will complete its journey on July 25 when the Law Enforcement Torch Run Final Leg team carries it into the Opening Ceremony of the 2015 World Games, and it ignites the cauldron at the historic Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. The Opening Ceremony, which features United States first lady Michelle Obama and entertainer Stevie Wonder, will be broadcast live by ESPN, and the public will be able to see daily photographs, videos and read reports of the Flame of Hope’s journey online at www.letr-finalleg.org. The Special Olympics World Games will conclude August 2 with the Closing Ceremony, which also will be carried live by ESPN. Special Olympics Barbados is sending 26 athletes to the Los Angeles World Games to compete in five sports disciplines: aquatics, athletics (track and field), golf, soccer (seven-a-side football) and bocce. In addition to the Barbados athletes, two Unified Partners, Nadia McLennan and Rico Wiggins, will take part in the bocce competition. Unified Partners are participants, without intellectual disabilities, who compete alongside athletes who have intellectual disabilities. Special Olympics Head Bocce Coach Lois Inniss, with the assistance of Victor Carter and others, has been preparing the team for the World Games, which will involve 7,000 athletes from 177 countries. Corporate supporters and individuals, who wish to help in the effort to send a Barbados team to the Special Olympics World Games, can do so by donating to the “Digicel Road to the World Games Fund” at CIBC First Caribbean Bank, account number 1001111009. *Photo Caption: “Barbados Prison Officer Victor Carter, at his departure from the Grantley Adams International Airport.
Job Hunt Difficult for Disabled
There are many well-trained Barbadians with disabilities, some university graduates with honours degrees, who are having difficulty finding employment within the mainstream economy, according to the head of the Barbados National Organization of the Disabled (BARNOD). “Frustration has really come among disabled members who think that they have reached tertiary level education and the only thing that stands between them and employment is their disability,” President Colbert Ashby told Barbados Today. He was speaking on the sidelines of the World of Work (WOW) programme yesterday. This latest round of WOW, starting later this month, will provide opportunities for a number of people with special needs to receive valuable on-the-job training, said Peter Downes, chief executive officer of Profiles Caribbean Inc. and one of the principals behind the WOW. Downes said about 130 students from secondary schools and the University of the West Indies (UWI) had received training over the past two months. “We plan to do another 70 or more on a first come basis over the next few weeks. Included in those 70 persons will be people with special needs who we believe can make an important contribution to the business community, once given the opportunity,” he said. The aim of the WOW programme, which was developed about two years ago by Profiles Caribbean Inc. in association with the Barbados Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCI) and the Ministry of Labour, is to offer valuable and relevant work experience to school leavers and tertiary level students through active participation in training initiatives and on the job activities. Ashby said while he welcomed the training opportunity for members of the disabled community, he was concerned that after training and retraining, some disabled individuals between the ages of 18 and 30 were still not gainfully employed. He said this continued to be a concern for BARNOD. “With the different types of illegal activities going on, we don’t want our members or persons within the disabled community to be caught up in these devious behaviours,” said Ashby, appealing to public and private sector employers to give them a chance. “Yes, we know we are going through harsh economic times, but there is still scope and avenues I believe that persons with disabilities can be gainfully employed or put in a position where they can showcase their ability,” he said. “Give them that opportunity that they have been longing for and don’t let them wilt away in despair thinking that no one seems to care.” Ashby said some employers believed that to retrofit their property to accommodate people with disabilities would be too expensive and they would not readily see the benefits, but that was a myth. “Records have shown that when people with disabilities are employed, they give of their best because all eyes are on them,” he said. Acknowledging that there was “not yet an even playing field” when it comes to job opportunities for people living with disability in Barbados, Minister of Labour Dr Esther Byer said her ministry was committed to creating more opportunities. Article compliments: Barbados Today
Mother & Daughter Team to represent Barbados
Nadia McLennan and daughter, Felicia McLennan, share the same dream – to “Win gold” at the 2015 Special Olympics World Games in Los Angeles, California. The two will team up to help represent Barbados in the largest sports and humanitarian event in the world in 2015, in the sport of bocce (pronounced BAW-chee), a bowling game of African and Roman origin. Nadia says bocce is a “highly competitive sport which stimulates the brain because you are forced to strategise.” Felicia says the sport is “good exercise,” and she likes the competition. Joining Nadia and Felicia on the Special Olympics Barbados bocce team for the World Games, to be held July 25 through August 2, are Special Olympics athlete Patrick Hinds and unified partner Rico Wiggins of the Barbados Defense Force Sports Programme. Unified partners are participants, who do not have intellectual disabilities and compete alongside athletes, who have intellectual disabilities. Nadia McLennan will participate with her daughter as a unified partner against other unified teams. Special Olympics Barbados Head Bocce Coach Lois Innis says she believes Nadia “was quite surprised” when she asked her to partner with her daughter Felicia for the World Games. The coach is “looking forward to a good performance from the mother and daughter team.” She has reason to feel that way because Nadia is also assistant bocce coach, and has been working closely, for a decade, with Felicia and the other bocce athletes to make them better players. In the previous Special Olympics World Games, held in 2011 in Athens, Greece, the two athletes representing Barbados in bocce, Justin Edwards and Laura Sobers, both returned home from the international competition with bronze medals. Felicia says this time, in the World Games, she wants “to come home with medals,” but she is also looking forward to meeting athletes from other countries. She will have a great opportunity to do so because the World Games will draw 7,000 athletes and 3,000 coaches from 177 countries. Special Olympics Barbados plans to send 26 athletes and two unified partners to the 2015 World Games in Los Angeles from July 25 through August 2, and fundraising is a priority. The trip will cost in excess of $200,000.00, and Special Olympics Barbados is appealing to the corporate community, the Barbados community and individual contributors to help make dreams come true for the athletes, who have been training hard to compete in five sports disciplines: aquatics, athletics (track and field), bocce, golf and soccer (seven-a-side football). In addition to providing major financial support for the trip to the World Games, Digicel has establish the “Digicel Road to the World Games Fund.” Those wishing to help a full team of Barbados athletes compete in the Special Olympics World Games can do so by contributing to the fund at CIBC First Caribbean International Bank, account number 1001111009.
Leander Powers on to Special Olympics World Games 2015
“Leander is a natural athlete”, says Special Olympics Head Golf Coach and Barbados Golf Club Instructor, Jaleel Marshall. Leander Brathwaite had become accomplished in a number of sports before adding golf to his interests. The St. Michael resident, who attends the Challenor Creative Arts and Training Centre, runs track, plays football, bocce, road tennis and cricket. His transition from the cricket bat to the golf driver has been exciting to watch. The first time Leander took a driver in his hands at the Barbados Golf Club driving range, he stepped into a series of massive swings that easily scattered golf balls over 200 yards. The task before Leander, Coach Marshall and Leander’s dad, Samuel Brathwaite, was to channel all of that power from his cricket swing into a golf swing, and that has been accomplished. After his twice-a-week practices, which involve hitting 200 yard drives and sharpening his putting skills, Leander can be heard to say “I did good today.” Leander says he enjoys sports because he loves to play and likes the competition, and, as a Special Olympics athlete, he likes mixing with groups of other athletes. Leander feels “very good” about the opportunity to travel to the United States and to compete against athletes from all over the world, and he wants to bring back a medal. He is one of 26 athletes selected to attend the Special Olympics World Games, to be held July 25 through August 2 in Los Angeles, California. The World Games is the biggest sports and humanitarian event in the world in 2015, and will draw 7,000 athletes from 177 countries. Special Olympics Barbados hopes to send athletes to compete in aquatics, athletics (track and field), bocce, football and golf. Leander and female entry Desiree’ Hinds will compete in several golf skill areas, ranging from short putt to long drive. Special Olympics Barbados is in the midst of a fundraising effort with the aim of sending a full team of 26 athletes to the World Games. In 2011, with a drive spearheaded by Digicel, Special Olympics Barbados sent a team of seven athletes to the Special Olympics World Games in Athens, Greece, and all seven returned home with gold, silver or bronze medals. Currently, Digicel has made additional contributions and has established the “Digicel Road to the World Games Fund” at CIBC First Caribbean International Bank, account number 1001111009. Local golfers can also get directly involved in sending a full team to the World Games by playing in the Special Olympics Golf Fundraiser, May 29, at the Apes Hill Club. Teams of four can register by calling the Special Olympics Office at 426-9064. *Photo caption: “Special Olympics golfer Leander Brathwaite displays the ‘Circle of Inclusion and Acceptance’, symbol of the 2015 Special Olympics World Games.
Joseph beats disability
MARCH IS DESIGNATED Month Of The Disabled in Barbados. This year the Barbados Council for the Disabled is hosting activities under the theme: Here Today, Here To Stay; Come, Get To Know Us! During the month the Monday Man column will feature members of the disabled community as they share their stories. Today we focus on Joseph Murrell, a wheelchair user. “NORMAL, WHAT IS NORMAL?” asked Joseph Murrell. “Normal is a setting on a washing machine,” said the 29-year-old who has had to confront notions of “normal” all his life. “We need to get away from all of the terms that are used to label people.” Though he has cerebral palsy and is a wheelchair user, Joseph insisted that his disability does not define who he is, neither does it quash his indomitable spirit. He is full of life and cheerful. But it wasn’t always so. “It was not an overnight thing,” he admitted. “There are going to be some days when you wake up and it is not all cheery. This morning I woke up and looked over at my wheelchair and told myself, that is a wheelchair and even though I see it every day it dawned on me that that is my chair. Sometimes you have to take that step back and remember where you are.” When he was younger he did not always have this upbeat personality. Actually it took a while for him to accept that being disabled was going to be his life. He eventually determined that he would not allow his condition, which is marked by impaired muscle coordination, to hold him back. Cerebral means “of the brain”. Palsy means “a complete or partial loss of the ability to move a body part”. So cerebral palsy means loss of ability to move a body part because of a problem with the brain. Joseph’s spine was affected by his condition. “The signals from your brain to your feet that would tell you I want to stand without you even thinking too much about it, they don’t work for me,” Joseph explained. Paralysed from the waist down, Joseph said his upper body functions quite well. “When I was a toddler, my mother realised that I was not developing at the rate at which the average child my age was. She took me to the Children’s Development Centre; that is where we got the confirmation that something was not quite right. “From there it was just a matter of accepting the challenge which I have and moving on from there,” Joseph said. He was a student at the Children’s Development Centre before going to the Charles F. Broome special needs annex. “At Charles F. Broome, they realised that apart from my disability, I was learning at a normal rate as the other children so they put me with the regular children,” he said. That led to Joseph moving to the St George Primary School closer to his home at the Thelma Vaughan Memorial Home. He sat the common entrance exam and went to St Leonard’s Boys’ School and to the Barbados Community College (BCC) to pursue the associate degree in computer studies. Joseph said the adaptation to mainstream schooling went very well for him. Luckily the students at his primary school were open and receiving and curious. “They wanted to know why I am in a wheelchair and once they got accustomed to me, I had some friends and we are still friends up until today. “The children were always willing to help me go where I wanted to go. At primary school the girls used to fight to push my chair, that was so much fun,” he said with a chuckle. He added, “Then I went to an all-boys school and I was like, what happened here?” Schooling was not without its challenges. At primary school the bathroom had to be retrofitted and a great uncle, a mason, dealt with that. At secondary school, when the others were at PE, “I would ask why I could not be out there”. However, Joseph said he capitalised on that free time to get a one-up on his classmates by doing his homework, leaving the rest of his evening free. He would also place first in class. For studies at BCC, a ramp was constructed to accommodate him. He completed his studies and is now employed at the Barbados Light and Power Company (BL&P). Even though many members of the disabled community complain of lack of opportunities for employment, Joseph is fortunate enough to have been employed for the past seven years. He said owners of businesses have to be willing to offer jobs but he said it had to be a two-way street. The disabled person who wants to be taken note of in society without a stigma attached but who wants to be seen as a “normal” person needs to be equipped with the necessary skill sets and qualifications. “If you want to be interviewed for a job, on paper you should be qualified, that way the employer does not have the sole discretion on whether you get the job. The playing field is fairer that way,” Joseph said. He did his job attachment at BL&P for his final grade at BCC and made an impression. “They were so happy with the level of work I did after the job attachment they called me back to continue working,” Joseph said. Nonetheless, Joseph’s disability has impacted on his everyday life, particularly when it comes to transportation. His friend of 17 years, Corey Lashley, who started working at the Thelma Vaughan Home when Joseph resided there, has never lost contact and sometimes acts as Joseph’s personal chauffeur. Corey said his friend’s positive outlook always has a similar effect on him and he is cheered up right away, whenever in Joseph’s presence. Fully accessible Barbados is not a reality, said Joseph, who avoids Bridgetown. Though he would love to be able to move around freely in the island’s capital, he sees that as a long way off. Sheraton Centre is his best bet for getting out or to the cinema at Limegrove. Not only infrastructural changes are needed but people need to change attitudes, he said. “If they realise that (a disability) may not be something you are born with, but every and anyone can become disabled at any point in time they would become a society who has fostered a mindset of acceptance.” That really ought to be a “normal” way of thinking. Article Compliments: Nation News
Disabled Beach Training
Some members of Breakfast Club of Barbados (BCB) Council for the Disabled are today at Browne’s Beach in a training session focused on the use of recently acquired beach wheelchairs. The specially equipped wheelchairs were donated by the Rotary Club of Barbados. BCD members, along with volunteers and sign language interpreters decided to visit have some fun in the sea on this holiday weekend, while teaching some persons how to maneuver in the water with the assistance of professional lifeguards. Today’s activity is organised by the Breakfast Club for disabled women and girls that was launched last month. In Photo, Tracey Lorde (centre), a resident of the Thelma Vaughn Memorial Home, is attended by a lifeguard as she gets into water splashing with BCD Operations Manager, Roseanne Tudor. This is the first time Tracey has been able to venture into the sea.
Discount Card Coming for Disabled People
MEMBERS OF THE disabled community will soon have a discount card to help with their purchases. The Empowerment Card, which is expected to be rolled out in March next year, was officially launched by president of Barbados Council for the Disabled Senator Kerryann Ifill at the association’s Garrison, St Michael headquarters this morning. Ifill encouraged all people offering a paid service to honour the new card. All disabled people over 18 and parents of disabled children under 18 are eligible to apply for the Empowerment Card.
Bus Donated for Disabled
THE TRANSPORTATION NEEDS of the disabled have to be given national attention to avoid “house-boundness”, says vice-president of the Barbados Council For The Disabled, Dorien Pile. “A simple thing like transport can change attitudes . . . . This has to be given national governmental central attention; but until this is so, it has to be our responsibility,” she added. Speaking at the presentation of a disabled-friendly vehicle at the headquarters of the Barbados Council For The Disabled at Harambee House, The Garrison, St Michael, earlier this week, she acknowledged that while Government provided five buses for disabled transport, it was impossible for it to service a disabled population of more than 14 000. The bus was donated by the Maria Holder Memorial Trust, whose chairman Christopher Holder said the trust had been set up in the name of his late mother who lived and contributed to Barbados. Holder said the trust had helped about 50 charities in Barbados. (CA)