Javani not looking for handout
Launtia Cuff, Gleaner Writer
SANTA CRUZ, St Elizabeth:
TWENTY-YEAR-OLD JAVANI Parker is living with a disability, but all he needs is a chance to realise his full potential.
Parker was born with an exposed and underdeveloped spinal cord, and although the spinal cord is no longer exposed and has grown stronger; he has never been able to walk and is confined to a wheelchair.
Parker, who has just completed his studies at the high-school level, is now seeking a job so he can be able to afford a tertiary-level education.
"I just finished my seventh year at the St Elizabeth Technical High School (STETHS), and I'm looking for a job to save some money for college.
While attending STETHS, Parker faced many challenges, and although he was exempted from school-fee charges for five of his seven years, he was still never able to complete a full school year.
"I have never completed a full year of high school; [the reasons] would range from wheelchair problems; financial constraints and health issues," he explained.
However, overcoming those challenges, Parker was able to complete his studies at the upper sixth-form level and now awaits the results of the Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Examinations.
BASIC NEED REQUIRE ATTENTION
Not only is Parker in need of money to further his education, but his basic needs require attention. He is discouraged as he feels that he does not have access to the same opportunities as others because of the lack of infrastructure in the parish to accommodate individuals living with disabilities, and the notion that some seem to believe that disabled persons are incompetent.
"Santa Cruz is not the best place for disabled persons. What I have seen [there are very few businesses] that have wheelchair access. I think the only place that considered persons with disabilities was Kingston. [But] you have persons living in Manchester, St Elizabeth, in the [rural areas as well].
"For the rural parts of Jamaica, persons are ignorant to the fact that persons with disabilities have abilities as well. The disability does not define them; and because of that simple fact, I cannot get a job," Parker told Rural Xpress.
He said he does not believe that the Jamaica Council for Persons with Disabilities is doing enough to advocate for the rights of disabled Jamaicans.
"No, [I don't know much about them]. Kingston is the Mecca; if you are not in Kingston, you don't know anything.
"I don't think they do enough. Just like how JFLAG advocates for their group, I think that the disabilities association should have been advocating more for persons with disabilities".
Parker said oftentimes when persons see him in Santa Cruz, they assume that he is looking for a handout, but he said this is not the case, noting that all he wants is an opportunity to earn.
"If it is that you are going to help me monetarily, help me by means of allowing me to start a business. I am not going to a person and say 'Beg you a hundred dollars'. I would rather say, 'Give me a job and let me work for the hundred [dollars]'. I have business plans that [they] can hold on to," Parker told Rural Xpress.