Silver medallist in the Ladies and Gents Hairdressing category of the Worldskills Americas competition, Akeila Chapman, has suggested that the disabled community should be invited to participate in upcoming competitions.
Speaking at a function to celebrate her success, Chapman, a second year student in the Barbados Vocational Training Board’s Cosmetology Apprenticeship programme, said that “it warmed her heart to see disabled competitors competently perform their tasks at Worldskills Americas.
“In Brazil, there was a category for the blind in hairdressing and the hearing impaired did landscaping. I would love to see that implemented here,” she noted.
In turn, Minister of Labour and Social Security, Dr. Esther Byer-Suckoo, lauded Chapman on her “excellent suggestion” and pointed out that there was a move towards having members of the disabled community involved in every aspect of day-to-day life.
“We have a history of the disabled community involved at many levels. We have a blind president of the Senate; but you are quite right, skills development is an area we need to [further] look at as well. Currently, there is a workshop for the blind where persons are taught to cane chairs with excellence, but we need to continue building on that,” Byer-Suckoo conceded.
Executive Director of the Technical and Vocational Education and Training Council, Henderson Eastmond, also noted that Chapman’s suggestion was an excellent one.
He added that his organisation had targeted the Irvine Wilson School so that the institution could come on board with the Caribbean Vocational Qualifications.
“I attended an art and craft exhibition there and the students produced some excellent work, and seeing that they can make these things, certainly they qualify for CVQs,” he said.
In further speaking about her experience in Brazil, Chapman admitted her intention was to initially gain knowledge and experience by attending Worldskills Americas, but as her confidence grew, she aimed to achieve a gold or silver medal.
Thanking her tutor and the “overwhelming number of supports at home, on Facebook and BlackBerry”, she said that she intended to “take hairdressing as far as possible” and to be a part of the next Worldskills Americas, whether it was in the form of mentoring or competing.
Chapman was Barbados’ sole representative at the Worldskills Americas competition which took place in Sao Paulo, Brazil. In the Ladies and Men’s Hairdressing category, Barbados placed second with 493 points, while Brazil copped the gold with 551 points.
Other competing countries in the hairdressing category were Guatemala and the Dominican Republic, which both tied for bronze with 478 points, and El Salvador.
Jamaica was the only other CARICOM country to compete in Worldskills Americas.