Basseterre, St. Kitts, November 27, 2017 (S.T.E.P.) — Members of the St. Kitts Nevis Association of Persons with Disabilities (SKNAPD) based at McKnight Community Centre and who are sponsored by the Skills Training Empowerment Programme (STEP) have joined their colleagues in the SKNAPD in observing a week of activities in celebration of the International Day of Persons with Disabilities.
While the International Day of Persons with Disabilities will be celebrated on Sunday December 3, the St. Kitts Nevis Association of Persons with Disabilities is observing a week of activities that kicked off on Sunday November 26 with a special church rally held at the Word of Life New Testament Church on Central Street in Basseterre.
“The whole idea of the week is so that we could showcase people with disabilities and raise awareness of the issues that surround people with disabilities and the issues we are trying to get the government and the public sector to address,” said Mr Anthony Mills, President of the St. Kitts Nevis Association of Persons with Disabilities.
The week of activities is being celebrated under the theme, ‘Sensitising our communities, reaching the world-empowering people with disabilities to rise about their adversities’. According to Mr Mills, this is the second annual week of activities to celebrate International Day of Persons with Disabilities in St. Kitts and Nevis.
“As most people know, International Day of Persons with Disabilities is the 3rd of December, but we do not just wait for the day and celebrate it,” observed Mr Mills. “We do a whole week of activities starting with a church rally where we invite various different churches and pastors and local singers and gospel dancers to perform.”
The church service was conducted by Bishop Matthew Hepburn, and among those in attendance were the Acting Director of Socials Services, Mrs Anne Wigley, STEP Vacations Supervisor Mrs Diana Pemberton, and members and officials of the St. Kitts Nevis Association of Persons with Disabilities.
Other activities that will be observed during the week will include the now popular ‘Walk in My Shoes’ exercise which according to Mr Mills is a disability awareness exercise thta will be held on Wednesday November 29.
“‘Walk in my Shoes’ exercise is where we are going to have a march through the streets of Basseterre and invite people to join the march and agree to be blind-folded or use a wheelchair so they could see how a person with disability feels,” observed Mr Mills.
The walk will start at 9:00 am taking the walkers from West Line Bus Terminal walking eastwards along the Bay Road, up Fort Street to Cayon Street and westwards to Church Street. After walking down Church Street, they will then join Liverpool Row and walk eastwards through to the Circus, on to Bank Street ending at the Independence Square.
“That was one of the ideas we came up with last year and we are doing it again this year,” said Mr Mills who noted that Cabinet Minister the Hon Eugene Hamilton was one of the participants who walked while blindfolded.
“A panel discussion has been planned to be held on Thursday November 30 on ZIZ to discuss disability,” noted Mr Mills. “We will have our annual banquet which is going to be on the 2nd of December and then on the 3rd of December which is the actual day of Persons with Disabilities, we are asking the Minister with responsibility for persons with disabilities, the Hon Eugene Hamilton, to do a national address on ZIZ to commemorate that day.”
The SKNAPD President thanked the St. Kitts Cooperative Credit Union, Ross University, St. Kitts Bottling Company, and Village O Rama Committee for coming on board to assist them.
Talking about the McKnight group which is sponsored by the Skills Training Empowerment Programme (STEP), Mr Mills observed that they were previously under the People Employment Programme (PEP), but were taken over by STEP after it was established in February of this year.
“STEP has given us a boost in term of numbers, because they allowed us to accept more people,” noted Mr Mills. “STEP has expanded the amount of areas that they are now involving people in the training, so what we are trying to do is to get involved in all of the different areas that STEP has.”
In conclusion Mr Mills said: “Before that we just had the computer training and the arts and craft training. We still have those but we are trying to get our trainees into auto mechanics, culinary arts and the landscaping which STEP is now offering. We are trying to get our people involved in all the different areas STEP has in its training programmes.”