Jamaica News: Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Local Government and Community Development, Marsha Henry-Martin, has welcomed the focus of the Nathan Ebanks Foundation (NEF) on the issue of disaster preparedness and the impact on the disabled community, through the staging of its annual fair and expo.
She noted that the emphasis is in keeping with the Government’s commitment to build the capacity of vulnerable persons within the society to cope with the impacts of climate change-related hazards and other shocks.
“The Ministry… has continually maintained the concept of inclusion as a primary consideration, especially in times of emergencies,” she noted.
“We must continue to raise awareness among persons with disabilities on disaster management plans at the local level and enhance the capacity of aid workers on the needs of persons with disabilities in humanitarian actions,” she added.
Mrs. Henry-Martin was delivering the keynote address at the media launch of the NEF’s third annual Family Expo and Special Needs Resource Fair on Wednesday (April 10) at the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation, St. Andrew.
This year’s event will focus on climate change, disaster preparedness and resilience for persons with disabilities, particularly children and the elderly.
Co-founder and President of the Foundation, Christine Staple-Ebanks, said while natural disasters and emergencies affect everyone, the community of persons with disabilities and special needs is severely impacted by these events.
“This is compounded by factors such as reliance on a wheelchair, accessible transportation and communication. All of these can be compromising for persons with disabilities and their families in emergency situations,” she noted.
“The evidence shows that persons with disabilities are often among the first victims of natural disasters as early warning systems may fail to reach them in time. Persons with physical disabilities such as blindness, hearing impairment/ deafness, or wheelchair users might not be able to act on the warnings quickly enough,” she said further.
Mrs. Staple-Ebanks said that raising awareness through public education campaigns and informing disaster preparedness and emergency management planning for persons with disability, should be a priority.
To this end, she said that the Foundation has established partnerships with several national emergency agencies, among them the Jamaica Fire Brigade (JFB) and the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM).
The Family Expo and Special Needs Resource Fair will be staged at two venues this year – Hope Gardens, St. Andrew, on May 25 and at the Alpart Sports Club in St. Elizabeth on July 4.
The theme is ‘Encourage, Enable, Include Me’, with the subtheme ‘Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management for Persons with Disabilities’.
Activities will include disaster preparedness talks and drills; health checks (blood pressure, cholesterol and dental); developmental and educational screenings; and sports and recreation. Families will be connected to support services and provided with information on early detection and childhood intervention, among other things.
The second edition of the Children and Special Needs Resource Guide, focused on disaster preparedness and emergency management for persons with disabilities, will be launched.
NEF is a registered Jamaican non-profit organisation that works for inclusion, and participation and empowerment of children with disabilities and special needs.
The staging of the annual expo and fair seeks to bring together products and services for children, families and the special needs community, engage stakeholders and facilitate networking in an all-inclusive setting.
Source: JIS News