Thousands more disabled persons now on registry
In four short months, an additional 3,187 persons living with disabilities (PDWs) have been identified and subsequently placed on the Jamaica Council for Persons with Disabilities (JCPD) non-mandatory registry.
The heightened registration, made possible by a partnership between JCPD, the Digicel Foundation and the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), sees 391 children and 2,796 adults being put on record between June and October of this year.
While the Statistical Institute of Jamaica (STATIN) figures show approximately 580,000 disabled persons living in the country, the JCPD registry sees just over 30,000, of which 5,000 are children.
Launched on June 13, the two-year $58-million synergy between the three goodwill organisations is focused on integrating PWDs, children in particular, into existing systems and having them benefit from present government mechanisms through registration to the council.
JCPD facilitates the independence of PWDs through training and the provision of socio-economic empowerment opportunities to registered PWDs.
As a result of the success over the period, the JCPD has reported an overwhelming increase in access to its educational grants for the 2017-2018 academic year.
Between July and September alone, the council has spent approximately $5 million to cover school-related costs to more than 200 children living with disabilities islandwide such as tuition, books, stationery and uniforms.
"We are excited about the results so far and equally excited about the linkages to JCPD services that assist children with disabilities and their families," reasoned Christine Hendricks, executive director of the JCPD.
"We're equally excited about the number of adult registrations because it has the power to enhance their independence, as they're able to benefit from economic empowerment grants and also National Housing Trust (NHT) benefits of five per cent housing, reserved for persons contributing to the trust. Of great importance is that their enhanced economic capacity enables them to better support their families."
... Will connect the disabled with invaluable social services
Chief Executive officer of Digicel Foundation, Dane Richardson, explained that the results thus far of the increased registration of persons living with disabilities are a strong indication of the potential in boosting registration with Jamaica Council for Persons with Disabilities (JCPD) for both children and adults alike.
"It underscores the opportunities we can maximise when PWDs are connected to invaluable social services," he said, adding that additional registration drives are planned at selected locations island-wide for the remainder of the year to maintain the project momentum.
Having indicated earlier in the year his intent to exceed the original target of 1,000 children over the two years, Richardson admitted that the favourable result in the first quarter is a spur to the foundation.
As such, Richardson stated that to maintain project momentum, additional registration drives are planned for the remainder of the year at selected locations islandwide.