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St. Maarten Be Able Committee seeks better conditions for ‘differently abled’


PHILIPSBURG–Much more is still to be done for those in the community who are “differently abled,” from implementation of legislation, bettering of infrastructure, training, providing employment and access, to sports, members of Top Promotion Foundation’s Be Able Committee told the Central Committee of Parliament on Friday.

Henri Brookson of Be Able Committee had requested the meeting with the Central Committee. The goal was to present to Parliament plans drawn up to better the position of the physically challenged and obtain members’ support for Be Able Committee’s endeavours. Parliament will forward the plans to government for further review.

Members of Parliament (MPs) agreed that more could be done for this section of the community. They are to look into incentives legislation and other avenues to improve conditions and employment opportunities.

The committee wants to have a permanent allocation for its activities placed on government’s budget. Michel Soons of the foundation said funding was not a major hurdle for the foundation at the moment as is the execution of its programmes. He added that a lot could be done without a lot of money. He urged people to invite the physically challenged on outings to keep them active. “It is not only [about] money, but social commitment.”

The foundation representatives, who included Dr. Piet Soons, invited MPs to the Be Able Week of Activities starting today, Saturday, with a walk from Raoul Illidge Sports Complex to John Cooper/Jose Lake Sr. Ballpark.

The physically challenged are in need of adequate housing designed for their needs as well as ramps outside of their homes. The ramps will allow ambulances and other transport to collect people easily from their homes, he said.

MPs learnt about the difficulty physically challenged people have in finding jobs. According to Brookson, Government should offer training programmes and employment. He also called for the reinstitution of the social workplace.

Wide-enough sidewalks, ramps at public buildings and proper street-lighting are some of the infrastructural items Brookson said need addressing and require better planning for in the future. Making buildings and streets “handicap-friendly” should be put into the building code.

Answering questions from MPs about the documented state of the physically challenged, the numbers who can work and living conditions in general, Brookson said the committee has plans to carry out a survey to assess the situation.

He commended White and Yellow Cross Foundation for its work with the physically challenged in the community.

Present for the meeting were MPs Patrick Illidge, Dr. Lloyd Richardson, Theo Heyliger, Romain Laville, George Pantophlet, Johan Leonard, Frans Richardson, Jules James and Sylvia Meyers-Olivacce.

Source: The Daily Herald, St. Maarten

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