Custos of St. James, Honourable Ewen George Corrodus
I am pleased to be here this afternoon for the launch of this Social and Economic Inclusion of Persons with Disabilities Project in Western Jamaica. The Project is supported by the Japanese Government grant fund through the World Bank. This is one of Five (5) such projects that will be implemented through the Social and Economic Inclusion for Persons with Disabilities Project over the next Twelve (12) months - three being implemented by Jamaican Association on Intellectual Disabilities (JAID) in Kingston, St. Ann and Westmoreland and two through our agency, Abilities Foundation.
Since the beginning of this New Year, I have been involved in a number of ‘first-time’ occasions – and each one represented the diversity of services offered to Jamaicans through my Ministry.
Today’s ceremony is one such instance – and I thank the organizers for inviting me, particularly Dr. Beverly Scott, Executive Director of the non-governmental Family and Parent Centre, which will be home for this empowerment project.
Dr. Scott told the Ministry that she was “very excited” about the project and the difference it will make in the lives of participants. As Minister, I share Dr. Scott’s excitement and am delighted for a number of reasons which I will outline.
Firstly, I am thrilled that this project centres on persons with disabilities and special needs. This is a community of vulnerable Jamaicans to whom my Ministry is committed. We want to promote their fullest participation and inclusion in the advancement towards prosperity and growth. This project is designed to provide vocational, and customer service and life skills to beneficiaries with disabilities under the Programme of Advancement Through Health and Education (PATH). For a period of Twelve (12) months, the selected men and women will be exposed to training in Barbering, Hairdressing, Sewing Soft Furnishing and Housekeeping. They will be taught other Life Skills, Customer Service, Capacity Building, Literacy/Remedial Reading and Numeracy. The project forms a part of the thrust by the Government to strengthen and create economic opportunities for Jamaicans with disabilities. It is geared towards attainment of our Vision 2030 Development Goals, which chart the course for Jamaica to become an inclusive society.
Indeed, ladies and gentlemen, I am excited about the possibilities and potentials being offered to lift the profile of the community of persons with disabilities in Jamaica.
This Project is designed to:
- Empower participants to obtain sustainable livelihoods, particularly as independent entrepreneurs.
- Prepare them to be income earners and boost their self-confidence and self-esteem.
- Position them to become active players in the labour market, with requisite skills and competencies.
- Strengthen the Disabilities Act and provide equal access, equal rights and fair opportunities for all.
The Ministry is, therefore, prepared to work with all interested stakeholders to advance the reform agenda for persons with disabilities.Partnerships are very important to help reduce their vulnerabilities – and this occasion with the Family and Parenting Centre is a good example of how synergies can be created and executed.
PROMOTING PARENTING & COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT
I am equally thrilled, ladies and gentlemen, that this project is linked to family and parenting and community development. These are troubling times in Jamaica – and it is necessary, ladies and gentlemen, for us to focus on healing families and restoring our nation. This project is designed to empower PATH beneficiaries to earn more and, therefore, contribute more to the well-being of their families and the education of their children.
As we all know, a stable family life and positive parental support are critical to the development of well-rounded, educated, healthy and emotionally-balanced children. This ultimately results in responsible, productive and successful citizens - and productive citizens can help to change communities and a country. It is this transitional change that I am excited about – and I am excited that the Family and Parenting Centre is at the heart of it here in Western Jamaica.
Having said all of this, ladies and gentlemen, this project is an important element in the Prosperity Agenda which this Government is pursuing to create the environment for jobs and growth in the economy. In its emphasis on employment and entrepreneurism, it is an endeavour for helping Jamaicans to learn to increase productivity, efficiency and competitiveness. It is a plan for grooming future leaders in family, business, and community development.
In short, it is a Project that will put St. James and other parishes closer to its goal of being empowered to achieve their fullest potential, and thereby ensuring greater social transformation, socio-economic development and better standard of living for all.
CHARGE TO PARTICIPANTS
I hope the citizens of Western Jamaica will get as excited as Dr.Scott and myself.
I urge them - our business sector, churches, and non-governmental organizations - to give support to the success of this Inclusion Project. For when the project succeeds at the end of its 12-months duration, it will spark the seed of hope for other communities; other clients with special needs and, generally, other Jamaicans.
Meanwhile, I urge the Thirty (30) selected participants (and their families) to support this project. The centre is equipped to meet your mobility and accessibility needs. Learn all you can; get certified and then prepare to earn and even to start your own business.
By virtue of this training experience you are being given the opportunity to be elevated from the informal economy to the formal economy; where for example you will later in life access social protection and generally enhance the quality of your life. Disability inclusion and advancement, ladies and gentlemen, is a two-way process - and while Government and NGOs are doing their part to open doors, persons with disabilities should actively participate in the process.
As I close, I want to thank most sincerely the Japanese for funding this Grant through the World Bank this project provides a tremendous opportunity to improve the lives of Jamaicans with disabilities. Thanks, also to the Management and staff at the Family and Parenting Centre for undertaking this project – and I look forward to hearing of the successes of the Project.
Sincere thanks, too, to the supporting Member of Parliament, Honourable Malahoo- Forte and other stakeholders and partners. Ladies and gentlemen, I re-state the continued support of the Ministry to advance the development of persons with disabilities in Jamaica. Thank you.