Differently-abled individuals are applauding the Government for its commitment to improving the situation of persons impacted by a disability and consulting with them in finding solutions to issues they face.

On Tuesday (November 01, 2022), Junior Minister responsible for Social Development and Disabilities et al, the Honourable Isalean Phillip, met with members of the St. Kitts and Nevis Association of Persons with Disabilities and the St. Kitts Society for the Blind as well as parent/guardians and other advocates of the differently-abled.

Persons at the meeting spoke openly about many issues including housing, healthcare and insurance, job opportunities, access to public spaces, introducing/updating legislation, and more.

Shodella Taylor, a member of the SKNAPD, said that she was impressed with the Junior Minister during the engagement. She described Honourable Phillip as sincere and applauded the Government’s announcement to create a department/unit that will tackle disability issues.

“That sounds absolutely amazing,” Ms. Taylor said. “Hearing the fact that persons with disabilities will sit in [some] positions, I think that is an amazing thing to do.”

Ms. Taylor also gave the Junior Minister high praise for organizing the meeting and listening to their concerns.

Jamal Herbert, another member of the SKNAPD, noted that the meeting was very productive, and he was pleased to hear some of the plans outlined by the Government. Others in attendance also shared positive feedback.

Junior Minister Phillip said she was pleased by the interactive discussion and appreciated the “openness and honesty” of persons in attendance.

“For me, it was a fruitful exercise since I was able to find out what the common needs and challenges are for persons with various disabilities,” she said. “This was my main focus since the ultimate objective is to deliver more support and improve quality of life for persons with disabilities in St Kitts and Nevis.”

In terms of takeaways from the meeting, Honourable Phillip indicated that “the most common issues I noted include the urgent need for housing that is designed to accommodate persons with disabilities, the need for education and skills training for young persons with disabilities so they can be integrated into the mainstream workforce, and the need to adopt a National Disabilities Act/Policy so that issues around the treatment, accommodation and elimination of discrimination for PwDs can be enforced and addressed.

“I believe these are valid and feasible goals to achieve in the medium to long term. So, with the establishment of a new Ministry and unit for persons with disabilities, the intention is to dedicate more time and attention to supporting PwDs and delivering on these goals,” Junior Minister Phillip stated.