Encouragement, excitement and plenty of fun is in store for the disabled community and their supporters as the Grenada National Council for the Disabled (GNCD) celebrates disability awareness month throughout May. Now in its 32nd year of existence, the GNCD will mark the month under the theme “A Voice of Our Own”.
President and founding member of GNCD Herman ‘Melo’ Peters, officially declared the month of activities open. He encouraged the disabled community to “cry out and be heard” in their communities and the business environment. “Never say you can’t,” he advised persons with disabilities. Peters, a successful businessman with a disability, thanked CIBC FirstCaribbean International bank and other business entities for their continued support of the activities of GNCD.
Nigel Ollivierre country manager for CIBC FirstCaribbean, which has supported GNCD over the years, said “the bank recognises its responsibility to support the nation’s vulnerable wherever possible.” He said the bank was pleased to assist the GNCD with their annual awareness month over a number of years. This year the bank supported “Walk with Me”, in support of the visually impaired.
The 6th annual ‘Walk with Me’, was held by the Resource Centre for the Blind on Friday, 28 April, in the town of St George’s. Thus far ECD18,000 has been raised towards building a customized facility to provide opportunities for blind and visually impaired adults and children. This will include teaching of braille, use of computers and general life skills to allow for improved, fully productive and fulfilling lives for the visually impaired.
Hilary Gabriel, coordinator of the GNCD, thanked CIBC FirstCaribbean & AllyDay Creative Projects for their support of the launch event and the ‘Walk with Me’ initiative.
President of the Seventh Day Adventist Ministry, Pastor Clinton Lewis, said, “people with disabilities are first of all people, and like everyone else they need to have a voice of their own.” He said the SDA’s mission was to sensitise their membership to the needs of the disabled and thereby overcome barriers in attitude and perception. He said his church would offer training to its members so they could better assist the disabled community “The ultimate goal is to engender a mindset which is inclusive, both in principle and practice, of persons with special needs,” he added.
Veronica Charles, Director at the Ministry of Social Development, recognised the presence of the young descendants of Dominica’s Kalinago’s who, under a UNICEF agreement, and with the assistance of Grenada’s Kalinago Beach Resort, came to share their skills and culture with Grenadians. She said not only had they taught skills but they had also learned further skills from the disabled community here. She reiterated the Government of Grenada’s commitment to the efforts of GNCD, whilst recognising that there was much to be done with for ‘disabled access’ in Grenada to become the norm.
The group’s public relations officer, Rena Pierre, asked for particular support at the National Athletics Meet for Persons with Disabilities, on Friday, 12 May. She has also asked the Ministry of Education to give all schools half-day leave to support the event.