A VOICE OF OUR OWN: Reason to ratify
As Month of the Disabled 2012 draws to a close, we the members of the community of persons with disabilities have much to feel proud.
This year’s activities have all been well coordinated and executed. The media support has been tremendous and every step is another opportunity to broaden the public’s awareness on matters related to our issues, our rights needs and most importantly, our abilities.
Within the Barbados Council for the Disabled, our focus this month has been on the creation of “An Inclusive Society for All!”
This theme has characterized all of our activities this month beginning with our church service and “ for the first time celebrated with the Seventh Day Adventist denomination.
We were happy to facilitate the support of the Lions Club West who offered our members HIV/Aids health screenings; our media feature on Women for Change which highlighted local women with disabilities.
Our Disability Awareness Day (DAD) activities highlighted the work of our Accessible School Makeover project which seeks to make some necessary adjustments to our schools to make them more physically accessible to children with disabilities; as well as the launch of our annual Literary School Competition, which this year focuses on children of the primary schools.
The Council Affiliates also played their part as we saw our children from the Learning Centre take part in their annual sports. The Special Olympics Team was not to be outdone as they too showed their athletic abilities as they prepare for future international games. Our special envoy hosted her Annual Fun Walk And Picnic which has become a permanent fixture in the activities for the month.
The National United Society for the Blind, in collaboration with Paralympics, saw their first Goal Ball Team attending a development tour to Turkey in the hopes of preparing a national team for future competition. The National Disabilities Unit also hosted an open day for schools in the environs of their Dalkeith offices.
The Barbados Technology in Education Conference included a workshop on assistive technology for students with disabilities, definitely something to be extremely pleased about.
The annual oratorical competition of the Optimist Club of Barbados was won by Ms Janeil Odle, a fifth form student of the Combermere Secondary School. Janeil will represent her country at the regional level this coming April when the Caribbean competition is held in Jamaica.
These activities have signalled that our society is gradually beginning to understand and include persons with disabilities in a more tangible way.
On my own behalf having been elected to serve as president of the Senate of Barbados has further lifted the work for persons with disabilities to a new level.
This is an indication that we are being valued, respected and included. I personally would like to take this opportunity to warmly thank all persons who have in anyway supported me over the years and especially at this time all the warmth poured out to me on this occasion.
Impact on lives
This month’s activities culminate with the visit of Senator Floyd Morris of Jamaica. As a former Minister in the Jamaican government, Senator Morris spearheaded their ratification of The Convention Of The Rights Of Persons With Disabilities (CRPD).
During his visit, Senator Morris has been sharing with Barbados the importance of ratifying the CRPD, and the impact it can have on the lives of our citizens.
On behalf of all persons with disabilities, I would like to end this truly successful Month of the Disabled by reassuring that through this “voice of our own” we will continue to champion our cause, celebrate our triumphs and represent our struggles. We also intend to use this voice to lead Barbados forward to an inclusive society for all!
President of the Barbados Council for the Disabled and President.