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May 28, 2008

2008 Disability Week to focus on inclusion of special need persons

Story Picture“We all Bilang, we di go deh strang with Inclujan”, that’s the theme of Disability Week this year. Official activities include a Finger Spelling Bee set for tomorrow and a parade through the streets of the old capital on Friday. One of the organisations coordinating the events is the Parents Association for Children with Special Needs. According to PACSN’s Public Relations Officer Sharette Swift, while there have been marked improvements in the services offered to disabled persons, not everyone is taking advantage of those opportunities.

Sharette Swift, PR, Parents Association for Children with Special Needs
“I believe children with special needs in Belize on a whole number in the thousands. But most cases, in my belief, the parents are not aware or maybe are in denial of it. Children with Special Needs, what is that all about? They don’t know and this is why we will always try to recommend them to PACSN because then you could go, you could have someone there to say you know what your child has special needs and this is nothing strange and it’s no different from the regular kids.”

Janelle Chanona
“What has been your experience Sharette?”

Sharette Swift
“My experience with children with special needs, because I’m a parent with a special needs child is that they’re no different. They’re loving, they’re kind. Yes they take a lot of work because they are just slightly different in so to speak of the regular kids that people would classify them as. But they’re loving, they’re kind, they always want to know more, do things and sometimes they are even more loving than the other, what they would say regular kids and they work hard. They’re dedicated and whatever they put their mind to they do.”

Janelle Chanona
“Knowing that the theme of this week is inclusion, what would you like to say to the parents who are maybe keeping their kids under lock and key because of their special needs or maybe not opening their minds to kids or other people with special needs? What would you like to say to them?”

Sharette Swift
“I would like to say to them open the door, let them out. Let them explore the world. The world is a beautiful place and yes, we have people who will look at them differently but motivate them, give them self empowerment so that they could walk anywhere and if they see someone looking at them in a particular way they don’t care because they know where they are going. They know that they are home and they are loved and they are happy.”

The Finger Spelling Bee will begin at eight-thirty tomorrow at the Belize Elementary School auditorium. Friday morning’s parade will move off at nine from the Memorial Park and end at the Special Education Unit on Freetown Road.

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