President Anthony Carmona has called for local legislation that would that institutionlise the rights of persons with disabilities in keeping with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
Carmona made the call at the opening of the first local parent skills training programme for children with disabilities, aimed at empowering parents and children, which got underway today at the Mount Hope Women’s Hospital, Mount Hope.
The effort at parent skills training, he said, should be a regional trust and endorsed his wife, Mrs Reema Carmona’s suggestion in May this year that Caricom leaders declare a Caribbean Decade for Disabled Persons 2018-2028 following the UN Decade for Disabled Persons 1983-1992 and the African Decade for Disabled Persons 1999-2009.
In a overview on how the programme came about, Carmona said, it was due to advocacy on the part of his wife, Mrs Reema Carmona and Dr Natalie Dick, Specialist Developmental Behavioural Paediatrician at the North Central Regional Health Authority (NCRHA).
He commended them for their efforts along with Minister of State in the Office of the Prime Minister Dr Ayanna Webster-Roy, and Permanent Secretary in the Office of the Prime Minister Jacqueline Johnson who is herself a person with a disability and who ensured the project’s implementation.
“This practical, flexible, culturally adaptable training programme especially designed for families of children with developmental disabilities, requires meaningful financial, policy and legislative support from the Government and stakeholders to be truly sustainable,” he said.
Parent Skills Training, he said, is a plan to educate, train and empower caregivers by way of an evidence-based strategy that is useful in professionally under-resourced settings, like TT and the Caribbean. It enhances the performance of overall patient management, he said, adding that it is not meant to take the place of specialised services but rather to complement professional services and/or fill gaps while specifically children with Austism Spectrum Disorder are on waiting lists for these services.
The one-week training programme is a collaborative effort between the Office of the President and the Office of the Prime Minister with the the Gender and Child Affairs Division of the Office of the Prime Minister being the implementing agency.
A planning, implementation, quality measuring and monitoring team comprising representatives of the Gender and Child Affairs Division, Ministry of Social Development and Family
Services, Ministry of Education, Ministry of Health, NCRHA, Children’s Authority and the Consortium of Disability Organisations (which represents 43 disability related
organisations) will oversee the programme.
The programme involves the training of 16 master trainers, several children and their families, and a few observers and researchers. The master trainers will in turn train parents.
Two facilitators from the international non governmental organisation, the Washington DC-based Autism Speaks and the World Health Organisation will conduct the training programme which Autism Speaks Senior Vice President of Public Health and Inclusion Dr Andy Shih said, is the first to be conducted in TT and the Caribbean.
Often times, he said, the barrier to help people with autism to achieve their full potential is the lack of skills and capacity in the communities where they live. The training protocols, he said, is evidence-based which Autism Speaks has systematically adopted.
The programme is now being piloted in 18 countries with TT being the first in the Caribbean region. With Government and stakeholders support, Shih expressed the hope that TT can serve as a role model for other countries in the region.