Adventists host first Special Needs Week
A year after the Seventh-Day Adventist Church in Jamaica launched its Special Needs Ministries in Jamaica, the church will celebrate Special Needs Awareness Week, starting today.
"It is imperative that we place emphasis on special-needs persons since it is a privilege to demonstrate the love of Christ, regardless of status - mental or physical," said Pastor Adrian Cotterell, Sabbath school and personal ministries director of the Jamaica Union Conference of Seventh-day Adventists (JAMU).
"As a people, we need to accept and appreciate all members of the family, including those with disabilities. Persons with special needs, ... be it physical, intellectual, or emotional, are often dismissed, mistreated, sidelined, and overlooked. This is not the mind of Jesus and should never be an attitude of the Church or society."
The theme for the week is 'Special Needs with Regular Needs'. The week of activities includes two conferences in east and central Jamaica before climaxing on Saturday, March 12, with Special Needs Day services at select Adventist church locations across the island.
NORMAL NEEDS ALSO EXIST
The week will focus on the transitions that disabled and special-needs persons go through, moving from childhood to adolescence to adulthood, and from dependence to independence.
"The main objective for the week is to recognise and appreciate the fact that, though persons have special needs, they have normal needs like everyone else," Cotterell said.
"Needs such as to acquire professional skills and personal dreams, to go out and work, drive a car, purchase a home, and start a family. We are talking about total inclusion and total participation in all areas of life and their contribution to society, which is very meaningful."
The first of the two conferences will commence today at the Andrews Seventh-day Adventist Church on Hope Road in St Andrew, followed by the second tomorrow at the Mandeville Seventh-day Adventist Church.
Both will begin at 9:30 a.m.
Presenters include former Senate President Floyd Morris; Denworth Finikin, chairman of the Jamaica Council for Persons with Disabilities; Camille Bennett-Campbell, director of legal services in the Ministry of Labour and Social Security; and Dr Joan Reid of the Ministry of Education, among others.
Figures from the Statistical Institute of Jamaica reveal that approximately 785,000, or 28 per cent, of Jamaicans currently live with a form of disability.