The UWI Centre for Disability Studies (UWICDS) held its Regional Disability Studies Conference on Wednesday March 7, 2018. The theme for this conference is “Enhancing the Disability Agenda through Sports and Culture in the Caribbean.” The CEO of the PSOJ, Ms. Jennifer McDonald, made a presentation at the Centre for Disability Studies regional conference: “The importance of public-private partnership in the advocacy, implementation and advancement of the lives of persons with disabilities in sports and culture.”
McDonald informed the audience that addressing matters related to Disabilities is one of PSOJ’s 4 core focus for 2018, which falls under Vulnerable Groups and Gender Affairs. Other areas for advocacy includes: Innovation and Technology; Climate Change; Crime and Public Safety.
“Jamaica possesses a strong platform with demonstrated excellence in Sports and Culture locally, regionally and internationally” said Ms. McDonald. She reiterated that “Our annual Boys and Girls Championships and the Jamaican festival movement which have honed the skills of our athletes and artiste over the years.”
The actualisation of programmes and initiatives built through partnerships are precedence of how public-private partnerships can work to improve these areas for the advancement of Persons with Disabilities.
During her presentation McDonald quoted Sydney Thorpe, keyboard player of the renowned Fab 5 – “People were fascinated because they had never seen a visually challenged person playing three keyboards at a time, much less sitting on a revolving stool, spinning and playing the keyboards … I didn’t have anything to prove to anybody because I was in a band that was a top band,” he said.
Ms. McDonald, stated that, “the advancement of PWDs in sports and culture can facilitate professional integration through the development of income generating activities. These activities will also: promote increased participation of PWDs in community life; increase the level of education of PWD through training; Educate and inform the wider public about PWDs and increase their chances of access to basic social services.”
She further stated that, “members of the private sector can assist with the advancement of PWDs in the areas of Sports and Culture by: having members of their staff volunteer to work with institutions or organisations that provide services to PWDs; making strategic decisions to support a particular sport, art form or
individual already engaging in either areas of discipline; making donations to existing programmes or projects that will advance the exposure and improve on the skills of PWDs in these areas.”
The UWI Centre for Disabilities Studies biennial conference is geared at bringing together, the academic community, the public and private sector, civil society and members from the community of persons with disabilities; in an academic environment to articulate topics of critical importance to one of our most vulnerable groups.