(S.T.E.P.) — Minister of State for Health the Hon Wendy Phipps has said that the government of St. Kitts and Nevis is doing whatever is necessary to make sure that persons living with disabilities feel welcomed in the general mainstream population.
Minister Phipps made the remarks on Tuesday December 5 when she officially opened Ade’s Place ‘Open Day’ to mark the institution’s week of activities. The institution caters for the training of adults living with disabilities, and who were recently enrolled by the Skills Training Empowerment Programme (STEP) which is paying their salaries as they train.
“Ade’s Place is one of those non-governmental (NGOs) agencies which the Government, as well as the Republic of China on Taiwan is happy to do work with, because they do a lot of self-help and at the same time they fill a serious void nationally in terms of reaching out to persons with disabilities,” observed Hon Phipps.
Ade’s Place member of the Board Dr Robertine Chaderton was the master of ceremonies who introduced the guests including fellow directors on the Ade’s Place Board, and former workers at the centre which is located in Greenlands, Basseterre. In attendance were parents and friends of the trainees who were happy to see some of the work that was being done by the trainees, which was on display.
So impressed were the visitors that most of the items on display were bought and bore the sign ‘sold’ to warn others coming that they would have to buy another item. Resident Ambassador of the Republic of China on Taiwan, His Excellency George Gow Wei Chiou, bought a flag of St. Kitts and Nevis that had been exotically made by the trainees using threads.
The Hon Wendy Phipps reminded that Sunday December 3 was celebrated as the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, a declaration that came from the United Nations in 2006 even though the day had been celebrated worldwide as far back as 1992.
“When that convention was passed in 2006, most of the larger countries would have signed on to it immediately, but in St. Kitts and Nevis we finally as a Cabinet ratified it, in other words we gave our agreement to join that UN Convention, as of April of last year,” said Minister Phipps.
She explained that since St. Kitts and Nevis has ratified that UN Convention, “A facility like this, Ade’s Place will prominently feature in it as one of the ways in which civil society or the private sector or the NGO community partners with the State in terms of bringing aid and relief, and still building assistance, and facilities for a better quality of life for persons who are living with disabilities.”
Minister Phipps gave a number of examples where the government has gone out of its way to do whatever is necessary to make sure that persons with disabilities feel welcomed in the general mainstream population, which meant putting in place those facilities and conveniences that make it easier for persons with disabilities to participate in community life and even in government.
She gave an example of sidewalks ramps in Basseterre and Charlestown and noted that an elevator at the Government Headquarters would be replaced with a glass enclosed full size elevator so that persons can get between floors. A bus was bought through the instrumentality of the SIDF to cater for persons living with disabilities.
According to the Hon Phipps, the Government has initiatives that it has been taking step by step in terms of assisting persons to get on their way to have a more inclusive community with persons with disabilities feeling they are a part of the community and even though that they have special needs that they are not a burden on the community.
In her conclusion the Hon Phipps said: “It is for that reason why Dr Robertine Chaderton was successful in getting the Skills Training Empowerment Programme (STEP) to take on board the 18 trainees and two of the teachers to be covered under the programme as well. So we are expecting some good things out of that so that the participants/trainees can earn their own income.”
Resident Ambassador of the Republic of China on Taiwan, His Excellency George Gow Wei Chiou, who gave brief remarks at the opening ceremony, said it was his third consecutive year that he was visiting Ade’s Place for its Open Day activities. He termed residents of Ade’s Place as his friends.
“Last year my embassy had invited all our friends to visit the Eco Park and also the Food Processing Centre,” said Ambassador Chiou. “Next year, at any convenient time for you just let my embassy know, we can arrange field trip to Eco Park.” He said that the embassy would provide the food and the drinks.
The Ambassador also said that he would extend another invitation to them to visit the Food Processing Centre, “So our dear friends you can make your own food at the Food Processing Centre.”