BASSETERRE, St. Kitts — Advocacy promotes equality, social justice, and inclusion, as well as human rights. As such, members of vulnerable groups in St. Kitts and Nevis are advocating for policies of inclusion and empowerment.
“We have to look at doing things differently. We have to ensure that we put policies in place and not just at social and gender affairs level but we have to look across the different ministries,” said Anthony Mills, member of St. Kitts and Nevis Association of Persons with Disability (SKNAPD). “Social Security and the Labour Department have a part to play because people are living longer and people with disabilities, most of us are not sick people.”
Mills, Manager and Facilitator for the SKNAPD Training Programme said that persons living with disabilities are at an unfair advantage.
“Our society needs to understand that young people with disabilities are currently being under-educated because we have this sort of one size fits all education for persons with disabilities, and it doesn’t work like that,” said Mills. “Some are able to learn at a higher level and you should give them that opportunity. To end some of the discrimination there needs to be more forums, education, and outreach ad that has to begin at the government level and across the board.”
Patricia Richards-Leader, Chief Executive Officer at the Grange Facility, shared similar sentiments noting that there must be an all-inclusive approach.
“It is quite discriminatory when you have the ‘them and us,’ so you are not going to include people from the private sector because it has nothing to do with them. That’s where the knowledge-base is,” said Mrs. Richards-Leader.
She noted that having a disability doesn’t mean that you can’t live a productive life and contribute to societal development.
“Just because you are in a wheelchair, just because you look a certain way – people with Down syndrome and autism’s body doesn’t stop working,” said Mrs. Richards-Leader. “I think that is what we need to appreciate in our little country because we are so educated.”
Some people, including people who would conventionally be categorized as disabled, use phrases like “differently-abled” to refer to disabled people. This phrase is used because it supposedly humanizes disabled people by focusing on our abilities rather than on our impairments.