Rehabilitation Centre demonstrating potential of disabled persons

Taken from the Guyana Chronicle, October 11, 2009

THE Vocational Training Unit (VTU) at the Ptolemy Reid Rehabilitation Centre, in Carmichael Street, Georgetown, is helping to demonstrate that persons with disabilities have potential and can contribute meaningfully to society.
The facility, offered free-of-cost to youths with disabilities, provides training in various skills, including activities of daily living, which would facilitate enablement that will, in turn, create access to employment or self-employment.

“At the unit, we target school age individuals and teach them skills,” one teacher, Ms. Jennifer Stephens explained.

She said that though disabled, they learn what is taught them.

Stephens said there is a six-month programme that caters for children and teenagers, but, in the event they need more time, they are accommodated for an additional period.

She said the students attend on Mondays, Tuesdays and Fridays from 09:00 h to 15:00 h, during which time they are exposed to a comprehensive array of activities, ranging from craft, sewing and embroidery, computer classes, money management, social grooming and physical education, the last on Fridays.

According to Stephens, the variety is necessary as it helps with the overall development of the individual.

“For example, the physical education helps them with various things. Some of them are diabetic and overweight and the exercise acts as a stimulus for them,” she pointed out.

Stephens said development of the individual is a priority.

She revealed that a display of craft pieces and food items at the recent Ministry of Education Health Fair was by students of the VTU.

Stephens said, because VTU students engage in cookery and the fair was themed ‘Promoting Healthy Lifestyles’, the preparations were showcased in an effort to advocate healthy eating.

Currently, the VTU has 20 students, each with a different disability but the two most common are varying degrees of hearing and visual impairments.

According to Stephens, the ultimate goal is to make those youths as independent as possible.

However, she acknowledged challenges, the main one being inadequacy of materials with which to work.

Stephens said the VTU is trying its best to deliver the skills training and the satisfaction from seeing their dreams fulfilled in a society that thinks them incapable is the best reward.

In that context, she expressed her gratitude to UNAIDS for its support by proving stipends to the students and teachers to offset some of the travelling expenses.

A rehabilitation officer, Mrs. Janice Simmons said, since USAIDS support ended in September, VTU is looking for a new sponsor and a new teacher as Stephens is leaving this weekend.

Mrs. Sabrina Bacchus, a parent volunteer, is also attached to the VTU and Simmons reiterated commitment to the students, reflecting the mission of the Centre, which is to provide specialised rehabilitative care for persons utilising the wide range of quality services available to further the interest of persons living with disabilities.