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Persons with disabilities show their abilities at SDC Expo

Published:Thursday | December 22, 2016 | 12:00 AMCarl Gilchrist
Clifton McKenzie with some of his products.
Some items made by students at Edgehill School of Special Education.
Items made by students at Edgehill School of Special Education.


Several persons registered with the Jamaica Council for Persons with Disabilities (JCPD) used the opportunity of the recent launch of the Moving Outside Vulnerability for Economic Development (MOVED) programme in St Ann's Bay to show just what they are capable of doing.

The business exposition, organised by the Social Development Commission (SDC), brought persons with disabilities from across the island, to showcase items that they have been able to produce despite their setback.

"This is the launch of the MOVED programme, which is in partnership with the Jamaica Council for Persons with Disabilities," Collett Kerr, community development officer for the St Ann's Bay Development Area of the SDC, told Rural Xpress.

"We are targeting persons with disabilities who operate local economic initiatives or businesses. Today's business expo is to showcase some of those individuals from across the island and to expose other persons with disabilities to some other viable options outside of the poultry-rearing and the farming."

The event brought persons one of who operates a bakery, one who does batik art, agro-processing, jewellery making and other areas of production.

For Clifton McKenzie, an amputee from Hope Bay in Portland, the expo presented an opportunity to publicise his Four Spices brand of powdered products that include jerk seasoning, all-purpose seasoning, cocoa, nutmeg and curry.

"I've been producing for about five years, but I'm expanding now, and I intend to go islandwide as soon as possible," McKenzie disclosed.

He said with his products already known all over Portland, the expo presented "a very good opportunity" to begin his push to go islandwide.

McKenzie does not grow his own produce, but sources them from other farmers and processes them. His condition does not hinder him.

"I can manage with one leg just fine," he responded when asked.


Impressive Edgehill


For teachers and students at Edgehill School of Special Education, the expo was a welcome one.

Their impressive display, inclusive of several items of jewellery and cushions, had visitors, such as St Ann Chamber of Commerce president, Pixley Irons, supporting the school by purchasing items.

"These items are very good," Irons remarked. "This shows that persons with disabilities can do the things that normal persons in the society can do.

Irons also commended the organisers of the expo, saying it was a good move as it allowed persons in the society to become more aware of what disabled persons can do.

Principal at Edgehill, Tabitha Chambers, said the students made the products, under instructions by the teachers. She, too, was happy for the event.

"We are really glad for this opportunity because the wider community needs to see what students with disabilities can do," Chambers said.

Meanwhile, with the successful launch of the first phase of the MOVED programme, Kerr said two other phases would follow.

"After this, we will do the needs analysis, based on some of the information we would have captured here through questionnaires, to inform whatever kind of intervention we want to put forward. The third phase will be training. We're going to be training persons in entrepreneurship, customer service, as well as business proposal writing because it's a weakness (that has been identified) based on consultation with JCPD."