JCPD Head Wants Change of Attitude Towards Disabled Persons

  •   Nigel Coke, Communications Director, Jamaica Union
  •  Monday, April 24, 2017




Executive Director of the Jamaica Council for Persons with Disabilities (JCPD), Christine Hendricks is calling on employers, service providers and the wider society to change their attitude towards person with disabilities. This she explained, should be done to allow them to have their piece of the PIE (Participation, Inclusion and Empowerment) like anyone else in society.


“Often times persons with disabilities are seen, looked at and treated like persons seeking hand-outs or begging, and sometimes they do because that’s how society makes them feel…pitiful, but I want that to change,” said Hendricks. “Jamaica needs an attitude change towards the disabled because we are still at the myth conception stage of feeling pitiful towards them instead of trying to develop them and build their capacity.” 


Hendricks made the declaration during a presentation at the National Leadership Conference for Special Needs hosted by the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Jamaica at its Conference Centre in Mount Salem, St. James on Saturday, April 15, 2017.


Inequity More Rampant in Rural Areas


She further explained that discrimination against disabled persons are concerned at two level - rural and urban. She said it is greater in the rural areas because the services there are less, but not deliberate.


She cited a recent case in which two members of the disable community went to open an account in a rural area bank, and they were turned away by the security guard because he thought they were coming to beg and harass the customers of the bank.


 “What I believe needs to happen more is increase awareness of what it is that those in the rural areas - the Local Government and the Social Development Commission – can do in the rural communities to ensure that people with disabilities are a part of the programmes that they plan.”


She commended the Adventist Church in their effort to involved disabled persons, which she believes should be made by the general church populace who sees them as “people who needs healing… the devil needs to be cast out of them so that they might speak, hear, see and walk.”


“This is a very important conference in more ways than one,” said Pastor Everett Brown, president of the Seventh-day Adventists Church in Jamaica. “It has provided the leaders of the Church with information regarding the delicate need to provide facilities and to make our worship environment conducive to special needs persons. With the information received today, we will make every effort to ensure that we are more inclusive in our planned activities and worship services as we seek to empower these persons.” 


Special Needs Ministries is one of the fastest-growing ministries in the Adventist World Church. It has taken added significance in Jamaica because of the strong support shown by the leaders and members of the various congregations. In 2015, the Church declared the second week in March of each year to be recognized as Special Needs Week with the second Saturday as Special Needs Day. The Church has also established its first Church for the Deaf in Portmore, St. Catherine. 


“This ministry demands the attention of everyone especially leaders to break down barriers that exist in preventing persons with special needs from acquiring their full potential and their participation in the Church and in the society,” said Pastor Adrian Cotterell, Sabbath School and Personal Ministries Director of the Adventist Church in Jamaica, who is charged with the responsibility for Special Needs Ministry.


“Since it is the ministry that Jesus spent most of His time in - touching, helping, caring and healing the sick, the lame, the blind, the deaf and other special needs challenges - I believe that this ministry will help individuals to see, hear, feel and be touched by Jesus. This is also a part of why we should respect the inherent dignity of all persons, abled or disabled, who are created in the image of God,” Cotterell added.


Dr. Larry Evans, Assistant to the President and Director for Special Needs at the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists delivered the keynote address. Other presenters included: Mr. Damian McLean, Chairman, Jamaica Society for the Blind; Dr. Iris Soutar, Jamaica Association for the Deaf; and Pastor Everett Brown.


Pastor Glen O. Samuels, president of the West Jamaica Conference of Seventh-day Adventists delivered a Missionary Charge to the gathering.
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