Health & Wellbeing
JM | Nov 30, 2020

Respect those with disabilities – Zavia Mayne

/ Our Today

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Minister of State in the Ministry of Labour and Social Security, Zavia Mayne.

By Fernando Davis 

Minister of State in the Ministry of Labour and Social Security, Zavia Mayne, says persons with disabilities continue to play a major role in Jamaica’s development and should be treated with the respect they deserve.  

Minister Mayne, who was speaking on Sunday (November 29) at the Jamaica Council for Persons with Disabilities’ (JCPD) national church service, held at the Calvary Baptist Church, Montego Bay, St. James, to launch Disabilities Awareness Week.

Mayne argued further that in order to build that “kind of awareness and acceptance” [of persons with disabilities], there has to be a concerted effort to eliminate discrimination and exclusion by creating a culture that values diversity and inclusion. 

“We need to recognize that persons with disabilities are not inferior and only need the proper guidance to become productive citizens and reach their maximum potential,” Mayne pointed out. 

“And there are some classic examples! Our own Dr Floyd Morris is Jamaica’s candidate to be a member of the United Nations Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) while Stevie Wonder, who is visually impaired, has been the recipient of 25 Grammy Awards. Albert Einstein, the famous physicist had a learning disability and did not speak until age three, while polio did not prevent Franklin D Roosevelt from becoming President of the United States.” 

Mayne noted that it is to this end why the ministry is committed to build awareness and acceptance for persons with disabilities in Jamaica, adding that many have contributed immensely to the growth of the nation “oftentimes without fanfare…oftentimes without recognition.” 

He said the ministry has been empowering persons with disabilities through various programmes and initiatives, providing needed stimulation and intervention for children with developmental disabilities from birth to six years old. 

Minister Mayne delivering his address at the Jamaica Council for Persons with Disabilities’ (JCPD) national church service, held at the Calvary Baptist Church, Montego Bay, St. James on Sunday. The national church service commemorated the launch of Disabilities Awareness Week.

“Several of the children who transition from our Early Stimulation Programme are now at an acceptable level where they can function effectively in our educational system,” the minister added. 

“Our Abilities Foundation specializes in vocational education and training programmes to serve all types of disabilities. Some of the graduates have acquired skills that allow them to operate their own businesses while others are working in several organizations, which is a testament to their adaptability and capacity to be productive citizens.” 

For his part, Pastor of the Calvary Baptist Church, Reverend Courtney Walters says Jamaicans should always try to be cognizant of the various challenges facing persons with disabilities, adding that that “education can assist to breakdown stigma and discrimination against members of the disabled community.”

“We recognise that as a country and a society, we have some responsibilities, and part of that is to build awareness and ensure that everyone from the smallest child to the oldest person realises that not all of us enjoy all of the facilities of life,” Reverend Walters explained.

He added that much effort has been made in different places of the world to ensure that members from the disabled community have access to the various services that would allow them to live out their full humanity.

“When COVID-19 pandemic hit, it meant that the world became a different place. Unfortunately, in many places, rather than being raised up and given the opportunities to live their lives to the full, persons with disabilities find themselves at the bottom of the barrel, and they are subject to more loneliness, more isolation, and more abuse,” Reverend Walters added.

The week is being observed under the theme, ‘Build Back Better: An Inclusive Society for Persons with Disabilities Post-COVID-19.’

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