by Curlan Campbell, NOW Grenada
What started off 3 years ago as a trip to Spice Isle Pure Grenada to visit a longtime friend has evolved into a lifelong relationship to promote literacy among people living with various disabilities.
The Toy Project founded by Jane Garfield has established a library at the Grenada National Council of the Disabled (GNCD). Funded by Garfield, GNCD and The Toy Project, over 700 books covering a wide cross-section of topics including science fiction, adventure and mystery are now available on demand.
The Toy Project is an English non-profit organisation founded in 2013 which receives donations of toys, books, and games other items that are donated to underprivileged children around the world. According to their site concerning Grenada, “Donations of books and Toys are made 3 times a year to The Council for the Disabled in Grenada. We work closely with The Dorothy Hopkins orphanage and Grenada’s school for the deaf. We have supported the island in creating a library that the council uses within its four sites.”
The special launch, held at the GNCD on Thursday, 18 January was attended by officials from the Ministry of Social Development, the Child Protection Authority and representatives of The Toy Project.
Garfield said underprivileged youth are normally forgotten by those fortunate enough to provide luxury items to their children in England, hence the formation of this group which is bent on correcting this disproportionate access to some of the most basic items.
“We notice in England particularly, [children] have far too many toys. They open them up a present play with it for 5 minutes, they discard it and is on to next one until they are surrounded by lots and lots of toys.” Garfield said it’s at that point where “we realise we must do something because there are plenty of children in England and around the world who don’t have toys at all.”
Garfield said The Toy Project is prepared to increase the number of books and toys shipped to Grenada. “Now that I have seen it and over the last 2 years sending small quantities, I think now it is important that we send even more, so there are more books that will be available so that children can benefit from them. My aim is to send every 2 months another 250 books.”
GNCD Coordinator Hillary Gabriel said that availability of books will transform the lives of people with disabilities, and “if we speak inclusion and integration,” this is advocacy work at its best.
Jacintha Alexis from the Ministry of Social Development was equally pleased with the initiative. “On the whole, libraries are not used. Many people are not reading so having an initiative for people with disabilities who are already vulnerable, and promoting literacy among that population is a double blessing.”
Many of the people with disabilities at Thursday’s ceremony were quite shy to appear on camera, but they indicated that the library would aid in upgrading their literacy skills.