Basseterre, St. Kitts, December 04, 2023 (SKNIS): The Government of St. Kitts and Nevis is rallying local stakeholders to be “United in Action to Rescue and Achieve the Sustainable Development Goals for, with and by Persons with Disabilities.”
The clarion call encompassing the theme to commemorate the December 03 observance of International Day of Persons with Disabilities, was made by the Minister of State responsible for Youth Empowerment, Ageing and Disabilities, the Honourable Isalean Phillip, during a national address on Sunday (December 03, 2023).
Minister of State Phillip noted that approximately 10 to 15 percent of the Federation’s population have some form of disability and have increased vulnerabilities that impact access to quality education. This leads to higher rates of unemployment and underemployment which in turn affect poverty levels.
“The Government has already demonstrated its commitment to full inclusion and participation of persons with disabilities through the establishment of this Ministry and the creation of a unit for Disability Services,” Honourable Phillip stated. “During this year, officers in this department have been building stronger relationships with partners, engaging in numerous consultations with various stakeholders and spreading awareness. The mandate of Disability Services is to prioritize engagement with persons with varying disabilities, along with relevant stakeholders and community allies.”
Several intentional engagements to be strengthened include the training programme implemented by the Skills Training Empowerment Programme (STEP) at the McKnight Community Centre, providing accessible housing solutions through the Ministry of Human Settlement, enhancing differentiation within the schools by the Ministry of Education, reducing financial vulnerabilities through the Poverty Alleviation Programme (PAP) and more.
“Through collaboration with these stakeholders and the institutions such as Cotton Thomas, Ade’s Place, Spectrum Center, St. Kitts and Nevis Association for Persons with Disabilities, and the Society for the Blind and Visually Impaired, we will continue to advocate for continuous improvement and strengthening of these and other initiatives to enable continued empowerment and increase independence and dignity of persons living with disabilities,” said the minister of state.
Honourable Phillip added that “the Ministry of Youth Empowerment, Ageing and Disabilities will work to support the implementation of accommodations in the workplace, we advocate for revisions of the building code to mandate that any new developments be designed with an accessibility lens so that wheelchair users, the blind, the elderly, and those who are less able-bodied can equally access public and private buildings and social spaces.”
A pledge was also made to provide enhanced support and engagement for caregivers of persons with disabilities along with completing consultations on a Federal Policy for Persons with Disabilities.