THE DISABLED population in St Elizabeth will have increased access to vision and hearing screening among other health services, together with climate change education when the Nathan Ebanks Foundation hosts its first Family Expo and Special Needs Resource Fair next month.
“We are excited to be able to take this initiative outside of Kingston,” said Christine Staple Ebanks, founder of the Nathan Ebanks Foundation and event chair.
“We know that disability is not a one-size-fits-all, but that the needs of persons even with the same disability in one community/part of the island can be quite different from someone with that same disability elsewhere,” she added.
“For instance, we have been getting a number of reports of children who are both deaf and blind in St Elizabeth in higher numbers than we find in Kingston. Autism also seems more prevalent than say, cerebral palsy in that community,” Ebanks noted further.
The fair is timed to observe National Disabilities Awareness Week and UN International Day for Persons with Disabilities. It will form a major part of the National Disabilities Week Calendar and will offer a range of services, including climate change and disaster resilience information and talks for persons with disabilities, free registration of persons with disabilities with the National Disabilities Registration Database, free birth certificate registration for the 200 persons with disabilities.
Other free services will include vision and hearing screening, academic screening (reading and math), dental services, health checks and medical check-up, presentations and demos to support the lives of persons with disabilities.
“We, therefore, have taken the time to meet with main community stakeholders to get their input, which was used to design the event. We asked them ‘what breaks your back and hurt your heart concerning your child’s daily living right now.’ We used this information to create the list of services that we will offer at the event. We are grateful for all of the organisations which have come on board to support,” explained Ebanks.
A number of agencies and organisations will participate in the event, including the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM), Child Protection and Family Services Agency, the Ministry of Health, the Adaptation Programme and Financing Mechanism (AP&FM) of the Pilot Programme for Climate Resilience, the Ministry of Education, the Jamaica Council for Persons with Disabilities, HEART Trust/NTA, Jamaica Association for the Deaf, Jamaica Library Services, the National Health Fund, Jamaica Fire Brigade, St Elizabeth South Lions Club, Community Based Rehabilitation Jamaica, Registrar General Department, among others.
The Family Expo and Special Needs Resource Fair is a flagship initiative of the foundation and is designed to work in partnership with other organisations to advance the mission of inclusion, participation, and empowerment of children (and adults) with disabilities and special needs in Jamaica.
“For the AP&FM – it is very important for persons with disabilities to be aware of climate change and be able to respond. So the fair gives us a very good opportunity to engage the community,” said Dr Winsome Townsend, project manager for the AP&FM.
The Family Expo and Special Needs Resource Fair, St Elizabeth, is sponsored by the Supreme Ventures Foundation, AP&FM/Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation, ODPEM, Child Protection and Family Services Agency, ChrisMix Radio, JISCO-Alpart, Kirk Distributors/Colgate, NHF, Ministry of Health, and Party Plus Entertainment.
“We once again have partners such as the AP&FM, ODPEM and the Jamaica Fire Brigade to share important information and resources on climate change adaptation, and disaster mitigation with persons with disabilities,” said Ebanks.
“Our vision is to see all children of varied abilities grow and uncover their unique gifts in a way that respects their diversity and celebrate potential. We were very pleased to see the easy way the St Elizabeth community has embraced us and this initiative,” she added.