Change attitudes towards disabled persons, J'cans urged
Executive Director of the Jamaica Council for Persons with Disabilities, Christine Hendricks, is calling for employers, service providers and the wider society to change their attitude towards person with disabilities.
Hendricks said it was necessary for persons to have their piece of the PIE (participation, inclusion and empowerment) like anyone else in society.
"Oftentimes, persons with disabilities are seen, looked at and treated like persons seeking handouts or begging. Sometimes they do because that's how society makes them feel ... pitiful, but I want that to change,"she said.
"Jamaica needs an attitude change towards the disabled because we are still at the myth-conception stage of feeling pitiful towards them instead of trying to develop them and build their capacity."
Hendricks made the declaration during a presentation at the National Leadership Conference for Special Needs hosted by the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Jamaica at its conference centre in Mount Salem, St James, on Saturday.
... Inequity more rampant in rural areas
Christine Hendricks, executive director of the Jamaica Council for Persons with Disabilities, says discrimination against disabled persons takes place at two levels, rural and urban.
Hendricks, addressing the National Leadership Conference for Special Needs hosted by the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Jamaica at its conference centre in Mount Salem, St James, on Saturday, said while discrimination is greater in the rural areas because the services there are less, it is not deliberate.
Turned away from bank
She cited a recent case in which two members of the disabilities community went to open an account in a rural-area bank and were turned away by the security guard because he thought they were coming to beg and harass the customers of the bank.
"What I believe needs to happen more is increased awareness of what it is that those in the rural areas - the local government and the Social Development Commission - can do in the rural communities to ensure that people with disabilities are a part of the programmes that they plan."
She commended the Adventist Church for its efforts to involve disabled persons, which, she believes, should be a path taken by the general church populace.
Social-needs ministry is one of the fastest-growing ministry in the Adventist Church. It has taken on added significance in Jamaica because of the strong support shown by the leaders and members of the various congregations.
In 2015, the church declared the second week in March of each year Special Needs Week. The church has established its first church for the deaf in Portmore, St Catherine.