Basseterre, St. Kitts (SKNIS): The functional capabilities of blind or partially-sighted individuals within St. Kitts and Nevis were spotlighted on Wednesday (May 10, 2023) as officials seek to raise awareness about blindness and the rights of impacted people.
On this week’s edition of the radio and television programme InFocus, Rockliffe Bowen, President of the St. Kitts Society for the Blind, and Jurene Johnson, the parent of 15-year-old visually impaired twin boys, shared their personal experiences and called on society to open their eyes on what blind people can do.
Mr. Bowen said that he is married and is gainfully employed, working to assist differently-abled persons. For 23 years, he was a very productive worker at Lutron Liamiguia until the factory closed in 2019.
“I remember when I was first taken to Lutron. Nobody felt that Lutron was a place for a blind person. There were a lot of remarks passed and I proved them wrong. I went there as a machine operator [and] I operated different machines,” stated Mr. Bowen, adding that he eventually earned great respect from co-workers.
“… We can be role models you know. … If a blind person goes to TDC and works and that blind person performs well, it would give the management at TDC the encouragement to hire more blind people,” President Bowen indicated.
Ms. Johnson shared similar sentiments noting that her sons Kion and Kiondrè are very independent, noting that they cook and clean, and even medaled during various events at their school’s sports day.
“I always tell people don’t treat them differently because they don’t like that. They prefer that you treat them like any other child in society. They want to run, play, jump, skip [and] hop, so just allow them to do that. Society needs to let them live. Help them, yes, but let them live,” Ms. Johnson expressed.
Marecia Browne, Coordinator for Disability Services, said that the Ministry of Youth Empowerment, Ageing and Disabilities will continue working with partner agencies and individuals to build out programmes that promote opportunities for the differently-abled and improve their quality of life.
May 31 is celebrated as Regional Blindness Awareness Day and the month of May is recognized as Regional Blindness Awareness Month.