|Authored by:||Robyn Adderley|
|Source:||Bahamas Information Services|
|Date:||May 13, 2016|
|As a part of the official opening of the Department of Social Services Disability Affairs and Senior Citizens Divisions of the Ministry of Social Services and Community Development on Friday, May 13, 2016 there was a ribbon cutting ceremony. Shown from left are: Pastor Peter Pinder, president, Grand Bahama Christian Council; the Hon. Melanie Griffin, Minister of Social Services and Community Development; Ms. Jacqueline Bowe, a 95-year-old resident of Holmes Rock, West Grand Bahama; Lady Laurie Miller; Russell Miller, son of Lady Laurie; and Mrs. Lillian Quant-Forbes, Senior Deputy Director, Ministry of Social Services and Community Development. (BIS Photo/Vandyke Hepburn)|
The National Commission for Persons with Disabilities, she said, is mandated to protect the rights of people with disabilities on every island, and the Commission is mandated to receive and address complaints from persons on any island when they feel they are being discriminated against, or their rights are being violated.
Listing the various groups in Grand Bahama — the Grand Bahama Deaf Association, the Beacon School, the Northern Bahamas Council for the Disabled, the Challenged Champions Group, and other organizations, she continued, have worked tirelessly to help raise awareness, advocate on behalf of, and support the Community of persons with disabilities.
“The establishment of this Division will go a long way in helping to provide additional resources and assistance needed to address the needs of persons with disabilities and their families. But this Division is not just about offering assistance — it is about providing opportunities for empowerment, as well as ensuring the rights of persons with disabilities.
“While disability directly affects about 15% of our population, it impacts us all in one way or another. Some people are born with a disability. Others acquire it through illness, accident, disease or because of the aging process. Disability can happen to anyone at anytime. I am sure that each of you will support this new Division in its endeavours, and in doing so, clearly indicate your respect for the rights and dignity of persons with disabilities.
“The vision of the Department of Social Services Senior Citizens Division is to promote the well being and uphold the Rights of Older Persons aged 60 years and older, thereby enabling them to enjoy the highest quality of life possible within the Commonwealth of The Bahamas.”
She said, “In past generations, older persons were revered for their traditional knowledge and wisdom; that reverence has changed and presently the general image of older persons is one of dependence, vulnerability and inactivity. The existing challenge within the Commonwealth of The Bahamas is to encourage communities to change its perception of older persons so that they appreciate that the elderly are still able to make a contribution through their experience and wisdom.
“The National Council on Older Persons was formed in 1999 conjunction with the National Council for The International Day of Older Persons to assist in the formulation of a national policy for Older Persons. In 1992, Governmental Social Services Agencies were amalgamated to provide effective services inclusive of the Senior Citizens Division. The Senior Citizens Division has a clear mandate ‘to uphold the rights of persons aged 60 years and over’.”
Minister Griffin applauded the efforts of Mrs. Patrice Johnson of the Community Affairs Unit of the Department of Social Services, and the Urban Renewal Programme 2.0, for creating activity centres for Senior Citizens in the Grand Bahama community.
“The Department of Social Services has provided a number of services for Senior Citizens. At present, we have a total of 833 Senior Citizens who receive assistance with food through the Community Support Division of Eight Mile Rock and Freeport. These older persons who are physically able, have the dignity of going to the store to shop for themselves, using the pre-paid card. Those who are home-bound, if approved, have been able to identify an agent who could shop for them, using the pre-paid card.”
Also bringing brief remarks, and giving a brief history on their organizations were: Derrick Nottage of the National Disabilities Commission; Jonathan Cooper of the Grand Bahama Deaf Association; Leona Armbrister of the Association for the Visibly Impaired; Dorana Russell of the REACH Association; and Anita Wilson of the Retired Persons Association for Grand Bahama. Jacquelyn Gray, president of the Retired Persons Association had the honour of introducing Minister Griffin.