Rotary Club of Kingston focuses on persons with disabilities
The Rotary Club of Kingston will focus its energies and resources over the next 12 months on the welfare and well-being of persons with disabilities.
Efforts will also be made to integrate persons with disabilities into the formal work sector.
This is a brainchild of the new president of the club, attorney-at-law Gregory Reid, who was officially installed recently.
The project aims to provide assistance to persons with disabilities and to increase an awareness of the needs of the community of persons with disabilities by the Rotarian movement and the wider society.
The yearlong focus has three main components: improving the facilities for those with disabilities at two major institutions, providing employment, and financing prosthetic limbs.
"Our focus is crucial for persons in this group. And by the way, with all that is happening in the world anyone of us can become disabled by any form of accident in a matter of a second," said Reid.
"So improving the facilities and assisting with employment will go a far way in helping those who have a physical disability to work through all the issues and help them reintegrate in society in a more seamless way," added Reid.
Under the project, the Rotary Club of Kingston will assist with the financing of prosthetic limbs at the Sir John Golding Centre.
The voluntary organisation will seek assistance from national and international donors to fund the project, to ensure that persons with disabilities can have better access to the prosthetic limbs.
The club will also improve the facilities at the Hope Valley Experimental School by providing a special-needs changing room so that children with disabilities can have access to proper changing and sanitary facilities.
"Proper facilities are important for those with disabilities, and inasmuch as buildings should be retrofitted to cater for those with disabilities, the process is slow and you find that disabled persons are more often than not inconvenienced when using public facilities.
"We want our business operators to make their businesses more accessible to persons with disabilities by installing rails, ramps, bathroom facilities and designated parking spaces," added the new Rotary Club of Kingston president.
The club will also improve the facilities at the STEP Centre through the provision of special-needs furniture to enhance the education of children with disabilities.
Reid said the club will also be spearheading a behaviour-change component to encourage Rotarians and employers to provide employment opportunities (including, summer, part-time and full-time employment where possible) for persons with disabilities.
In a report published in April, the World Bank noted that in 2001, just over six per cent of the population in Jamaica (approximately 160,000 people) was identified as living with a disability.
According to the World Bank, of these individuals, fewer than one per cent are in paid employment, making the disabled community one of the most vulnerable groups in Jamaica.
"Barriers to employing persons with disabilities are a major development challenge," highlighted Junko Onishi, senior social protection specialist.
"Persons with disabilities in Jamaica experience higher levels of unemployment when compared to their able-bodied counterparts, demonstrate higher levels of illiteracy, limited educational attainment, and often lack job skills and certification," added Onishi.
Jamaica passed the Disability Act to promote and protect the rights of members of the disabled community in 2014.
Once fully implemented, the act promises to:
- Reinforce and promote acceptance of the principle of equal fundamental rights for people with disabilities.
- Promote individual dignity and autonomy of people with disabilities.
- Ensure full and effective participation and inclusion of people with disabilities in society.
- Prevent or prohibit discrimination against people with disabilities.