As Barbados observed the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, the winners of the Barbados Council for the Disabled 3rd Annual Dorien Pile National Literary competition received their prizes.
During the Prize Giving Awards Ceremony at the United Nations House, Marine Gardens, Hastings, Christ Church, chief judge and retired educator of 41 years Jeff Broomes, praised the standard of the essays, which he said were well written, comprehensive, and thought provoking.
Broomes said he associated himself with the general suggestions of the entrants who recommended a thrust on education, employment, infrastructure, sensitivity and volunteerism.
“As a country, if we project ourselves as leaders in our respective professions, understand and accept these national needs, we would understand why each of us can make a difference by volunteering our skills for at least two hours per week.
“This is our country and we must accept the challenge. Government cannot do all. Let’s be inclusive by including ourselves and abilities in an effort to help all those that are unable to help themselves in one area or another,” Broomes stressed.
Meanwhile, President of the Council for the Disabled Maria Holder-Small said she has been making endless pleas, and so have many of her predecessors, for society to pay attention to the continued exclusion of persons with disabilities.
Holder-Small admitted that there have been some successes, but more often than not, “our inclusion has been seen as after thoughts”.
The president argued that persons with disabilities know their worth and value towards the contribution of building the nation, and they are willing to play their part, as they hold the view as the time for seeing persons with disabilities as dependents of the state, is a thing of the past.
“We are now faced with doctors, lawyers, business leaders and other professionals acquiring disabilities and still wanting and being able to contribute to their independence.
“If we as a country are serious about empowering persons with disabilities for an inclusive, equitable and sustainable development as a part of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), then the time for action is now. The 2030 Agenda pledges to leave no one behind,” Holder-Small said.
The winner of the aged eight to 12 category is Destiny Best of Deighton Griffith School. Second place was awarded to Xaundre Baptiste of Queens College, and third went to Charity Edwards of All Saints Primary School. Meanwhile, Kaleisha Hurdle was awarded a special prize in that age category.
In the age 13 to 17 category, Alyssa Blades of Queens College took the first place position. Zionte Baptiste of Queens College placed second, and Kya Knight of Deighton Griffith came third.
The winner of the age 18 years and over category is George Francis. Shaunee Richards placed second, and Olivia Russell took the third spot. The participants who placed first received BDS$1, 000, while those who came second received BDS$750, and third place winners received BDS$500.