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Twenty-six youths complete Reaching Out programme

marciadottin, [email protected]

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Twenty-six young people who took part in the 2009-2010 Special Olympics Barbados Athlete Leadership programme’s Reaching Out project were awarded recently for successfully completing the programme.During the awards ceremony which took place at the Divi Southwinds Beach Resort, Christopher Sinckler, Minister of Social Care, Constituency Empowerment, Urban and Rural Development, said the programme was not only timely but “laudable in its content”.He noted that there were only a few similar schemes available that would allow children with special needs and those intellectually challenged to participate in “mainstream society” and make a contribution to the nation.“These special young people are part of our heritage and no effort should be spared in removing the barriers that may hinder their progress. It is for this reason that the Government . . . did not hesitate to assist financially with the implementation of this and other programmes from which persons with disabilities can benefit,” said the minister.Sinckler further noted that those programmes accounted for the annual subvention of about  $400 000 given by the Government to the Barbados Council for the Disabled.“But our commitment goes beyond the provision of funds,” said Sinckler.He noted that in recent years, many of the people infected with HIV/AIDS were young people who were intellectually challenged.“These young people do not possess the skills to negotiate sexual transactions and are often taken advantage of.“The Government, through the ministry of social care and its agencies, has affirmed its commitment to the community of persons with disabilities, with its intention to ratify the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities this year,” he said.Those taking part in the project received training in social skills and personal development and life skills, visual and performing arts, leisure and social activities.Acting chairman of the association, Thelma Brathwaite, said they were committed to “recruiting” new athletes.She said: “A community is not a community until it comes to terms with all its members. Accept them as they are and enable them to become what they can be.” (MM)