Basseterre, St. Kitts (SKNIS): Government is pushing forward with its agenda to improve the conditions for differently-abled persons in St. Kitts and Nevis. On Tuesday (November 01, 2022), Junior Minister with responsibility for Disability, the Honourable Isalean Phillip, met with members of the St. Kitts and Nevis Association of Persons with Disabilities (SKNAPD) and others for a frank and interactive discussion.
The session was held at the McKnight Community Centre and featured presentations from the President and Vice President of the SKNAPD as well as the President of the St. Kitts Society for the Blind. Members of both bodies attended, as well as parents/guardians of persons with a disability.
SKNAPD President Joseph Bergan said that meaningful engagements such as the meeting today are greatly valued as they allow for an honest discussion and an exchange of ideas.
“We are fighting for equal opportunity,” Mr. Bergan stated, noting that the ultimate aim is to have differently-abled persons being self-sufficient and leading independent lives.
During her presentation, Junior Minister Phillip explained that the Government is specifically focused on uplifting vulnerable segments in society including at-risk youth, senior citizens and the differently-abled.
“We recognize the need to pay more attention to and to put more investment into supporting our persons with disabilities/differently-abled. And so, as a new minister, we are trying to build out what this new department, this unit, is going to offer and what we are going to do,” she stated.
“And of course, to be able to figure out what it is we are going to do we have to have conversations with all of you since you are the people we are going to serve,” the Junior Minister added.
Subject areas covered during the discussion included finding a permanent home for the Association; updating legislation to include mandates in the United Nations Convention on Persons with Disabilities; protecting designated parking spaces for the differently-abled and adjusting other traffic regulations; housing; reducing the stigma towards disability, increasing employment opportunities, and more.
After the meeting, members of the association thanked the Junior Minister and expressed optimism for greater action in addressing the concerns of the differently-abled.
The Junior Minister was supported by Janelle Lewis-Tafari, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Social Development.