… people should not stare at us, call us names or make silly remarks – say disabled students
As part of the preliminary activities leading to National Week for Persons with Disabilities, the Guyana Council of Organizations for Persons with Disabilities, in collaboration with the National Commission on Disability, hosted a symposium at St Joseph High School, on Tuesday.
“National Week for Persons Living with Disabilities” is scheduled to be observed from November 27 to December 4.
The symposium facilitated a competition involving topics related to the theme of this year’s activities, “Keeping the Promise: Include Persons Living with Disabilities in the Millennium Development Goals”.
The symposium was divided into three categories, one each for presentations from Primary schools; special needs schools and secondary schools.
Those competing in the secondary included Tutorial High, Apex Academy, Queen’s College, Fort Wellington, St Joseph Secondary and Central High.
Those competing in the special needs segment were David Rose, New Amsterdam Special Needs Schools, and the Open Door Centre.
Schools that competed in the primary school segment included, Leonora Primary, Stella Maris Primary, Stewartville Primary, Apex Academy and Grove Primary
Queen’s College gained first place in the Secondary Schools segment with Fort Wellington in second place and Apex Academy in third.
Leonora Primary gained first place in the Primary schools segment with Grove Primary, second and Stewartville Primary third.
For the Special needs segment, Open door Centre gained first place followed by New Amsterdam and David Rose.
Primary and special needs schools examined “In what ways can young people provide support for persons living with disabilities” and “In what way can your community play an important role in empowering persons living with disabilities
Secondary Schools examined “The ultimate goal of inclusive quality education is to end all forms of discrimination and to assist in improving the lives of persons living with disabilities” and “Do you think that if parents and teachers co-operate, persons living with disabilities would enjoy a better quality of life?”
It was the general agreement that persons with disabilities are “humans too”, therefore should be loved and cared for and not be discriminated against.
Upon delivering their presentation, students from the David Rose Handicap School suggested that “people should not stare at us, call us names or make silly remarks. Instead, they should respect us as talented individuals.”
It was proposed that persons with disabilities possess certain attributes that those people refer to as “normal” do not. These would include the ability to deliver and understand sign language.
The open door centre, (National Vocational Training Centre for Persons with Disabilities) focused on parents and teachers playing a part in ensuring that persons with disabilities have a quality life.
The students, in the opinion of many, presented their “well put together” information in a manner that was shocking to most.
According to them, quality of life has to do with the general well-being of a person. They added that it will take into account; one’s standard of living, human rights, freedom, happiness and other human necessities.
They supported the need for teachers to work hard towards the edification of persons with disabilities.
The students presented a chart that showed the results of premium education. They suggested that a good education leads to the capture of a good job; a good job then leads to wealth. They further indicated that wealth produces houses and other luxuries that then results in the ultimate goal, “a quality life”.
Presenters from other schools conveyed similar messages in that persons living with disabilities do not need sympathy or scorn instead; all they need is to be accepted by society as another human being.
According to Alexis Mc Curdy, a student of Tutorial High School, nobody should be discriminated against.
She further stated that many persons may feel isolated, unwanted or as if they are burdens to society. Since being disabled can be a cause and effect of poverty “we need not further discriminate against these persons”
According to the representative of Queens College, discrimination becomes contagious in schools and society in general.
The young man stated that he was a victim of discrimination thus he knows how it feels.
He recalled that in the first form a coach, who is no longer attached to the school, denied him the chance of being a part of the school’s cricket team because of the fact that he had a disability—he has one arm.
“I would have been the best bowler; the fastest even,” the young man lamented.
Marcel Hudson, Assistant Chief Education Officer for Primary Education pledged the Ministry’s support to the future endeavors of the Guyana Council of Organizations for Persons with Disabilities.
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