BASSETERRE, St. Kitts — A positive difference in the lives of differently-abled persons, allowing them to become increasingly independent while generating an income to become self-sufficient due to the efforts of the St. Kitts and Nevis Association of Persons with Disabilities (SKNAPD).

Skills Training Empowerment Programme (STEP) Director Wendell Wattley, said its skills training and work programme currently supports SKNAPD’s work, which is based at the McKnight Community Centre. STEP provides support to trainers who work with the people who attend classes at the centre. It also supports ADE’s Place, a day centre that provides training for day-to-day skills for differently-abled adults in St. Kitts.

ADE’s Place member of the Board of Directors Clarice Cotton, explained that the private institution conducts classes in arts and crafts, and agriculture. They also conduct life-skill sessions and instruction in cooking, washing, ironing, singing and dancing. The private facility caters to graduates of the Cotton Thomas Comprehensive School.

Ms. Cotton said two years ago, STEP came onboard and provided financial support. That translated into paying wages for three staff members at the institution which increased the numbers from two to five. Additionally, STEP provides a stipend for the enrolees at ADE’s Place, which has allowed registered participants to grow from seven to about 20 persons.

“They are able to pay their [attendance] fees, their bus fares and they are telling you ‘I’m working’ and so I think it [STEP] has made quite a difference,” said Ms. Cotton.

The increased sense of self confidence has allowed some ADE’s Place students to seek and gain part-time employment. Several are employed at the Craft House; one works at the Robert L. Bradshaw International Airport; while another is employed by a company in Basseterre.

“Students are able to sell their art and craft creations at exhibitions and some do quite well through special orders made by clients throughout the year,” concluded Ms. Cotton. “It has made a difference in the trainees’ lives; it has enabled us to employ more persons, enabled us to take in more trainees and so we really appreciate the input from STEP.”