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Nov 30, 2016

Persons with Diverse Abilities Rally in Old Capital

Throughout this week, consciousness raising activities are being held around the globe to bring attention to the rights of those living with disabilities. The challenge is to create an environment that is conducive to a better quality of life. There has been improvement in conditions at workplaces and schools for disabled persons, but there is still a long way to go.  This morning in the city, a rally was held under the theme, “Achieving the Seventeen Goals for the Future We Want.” News Five’s Duane Moody reports. 

 

Duane Moody, Reporting

Across the world, this week is being celebrated as disabilities week in accordance with the United Nations International Day of Persons with Diverse Abilities, recognized annually since 1992 on December third. The theme for this year is “Achieving the Seventeen Goals for the Future We Want,” which is in line with the sustainable development goals to build a more inclusive and equitable world for persons with disabilities. Today, the Belize Association of Persons with Diverse Abilities held a rally at the Memorial Park before parading to the Battlefield Park in downtown Belize City for a fair.

 

Roxanne Marin

Roxanne Marin, President, BAPDA

“There was once the Millennium Development Goals and those have been edited and upgraded to the Sustainable Development Goals and that of course incorporates persons with disabilities. With our theme right now, “the Seventeen Goals on Sustainable Develop,” is one of the aims of how we will move forward from here. Keep in mind that the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities is the binding legal document for all persons that is written specifically for us. So that is the primary document that we are guided by.”

 

While the annual event brings awareness to the many challenges facing persons with disabilities, there have also been strides made in terms of inclusion in the workplace and in schools. Manager of the National Resource Center for Inclusive Education Earlett Thomas says that a number of students with special needs are within classrooms across the country. She says that it helps them develop social skills.

 

Earlett Thomas

Earlett Thomas, Manager, NaRCIE

“Stella Maris is the only institution we have in Belize apart from Cayo Deaf Institute where we have children with special needs. And if we see that they really need the individual attention; they need that one-to-one, then we put them to Stella Maris because we have that ratio of fifteen to two teachers.”

 

Duane Moody

“In terms of numbers, where are we with having children with special needs in the regular classrooms?”

 

Earlett Thomas

“Well our client list—I can only speak for the NaRCIE—we have a client list because we have education officers in each district and our client list says that we are serving seven hundred and sixteen students in the classroom system.”

 

BAPDA also used today to launch its newest program, Disability ID. By registering with the organization, persons with any range of disabilities sixteen years and older would qualify for various benefits. President Roxanne Marin explains.

 

Roxanne Marin

“This year it is a little bit different; we are doing the soft launch of the Disability ID, which is an initiative done by our organization for persons with diverse abilities countrywide. We do this with the aim that we get recognition when it comes to cost reduction when it comes to services in areas of health, in areas of education, in areas of transportation. So it is a wonderful day. It is a day of celebration for our organization and for our partners.”

 

Duane Moody for News Five.

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