Walk a Mile in my Shoes was the theme of the inaugural awareness walk held by Barbados National Organization for the Disabled (BARNOD) in commemoration of Month of the Disabled. And participants did just that.
They were challenged to wear blindfolds or use crutches, canes or wheelchairs as they joined the march last Saturday from the Clock Tower at the Garrison Savannah to Independence Square.
President of BARNOD Colbert Ashby told Barbados TODAY the main purpose of the walk was to make Barbadians aware of the challenges which disabled persons face on a daily basis. One major challenge he highlighted was that of securing employment.
He said the organization has taken on the task of rallying to see action on two of the articles in the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which Barbados has signed on to – Article 8 which concentrates on raising awareness and Article 27 which addresses the issue of employment.
Saturday’s walk was BARNOD’s main activity for Month of the Disabled; however, the organization is also planning to assist young disabled people with job preparation.
“Many of our young people have reached tertiary education but the only thing that goes against them is their disability, because we find it very difficult for persons with a disability to get a job,” Ashby said.
BARNOD is also hoping to work with businesses to provide six-to eight-week internships for young people to get a feel for the workplace and get a sense of independence.
“Persons with disabilities are people too, and once you give them the opportunity to perform you will see their worth. If you never give them the opportunity you wouldn’t know what they can do,” Ashby emphasized.
President of the Barbados Road Safety Association Sharmane Rowland-Bowen, who attended the march, expressed the difficulty she faced in walking the route with crutches.
Given the rise in collisions and road fatalities this year, she noted that it is becoming increasingly possible for persons who suffered injury to develop a disability, and she expressed the hope that more provisions would be made to accommodate disabled people.
“They need to make way so that persons with disabilities can walk freely and can be catered for in our community, not just able-bodied persons,” Rowland-Bowen said.
BARNOD will also be launching a rehabilitation project in the near future, to aid previously able-bodied in transitioning to life with disability.