The Rotary Club of Barbados Christens Their Sea for All: Floating Beach Chairs is Only a Start

AN INITIATIVE launched to assist persons with disabilities could open up a niche market for our tourism sector.

So says Minister of Social Care, Constituency Empowerment and Community Development Steve Blackett, who was delivering special remarks at the launch of the Rotary Club of Barbados' Sea for All programme at Browne's Beach yesterday morning, at which time three "floating chairs" were unveiled.

According to Minister Blackett: "Given our ageing population as well as the opportunities in the area of niche tourism, offerings such as these will also place us on the cutting edge in the world of disabilities, alongside such exciting programmes as the Fully Accessible Barbados Programme undertaken by the Barbados Council for the Disabled.

"It is my view that the provision of such equipment in hotels, eco-trails, and even at the Bridgetown Port would allow Barbados to cater to those among our visitors who are persons with disabilities, and that this would give Barbados a competitive edge on many other destinations in the region and beyond."

Making the point that Government cannot do it all alone, he invited other organisations to follow the lead of the Rotary Club of Barbados in this regard.

"...Survey the needs of the full range of the public that you serve, and see where assistance and/or equipment can be donated to make this country more user-friendly to all members of society, and to our visitors."

He noted that yesterday's presentation also provides an opportunity for realism and sends a sharp reminder that many persons with disabilities live on the margins of society and become dependent on the State - which, he explained, is not always able to respond to their needs in a timely manner on its own.

"Particularly in this tight economic environment, we all must step back and review what we do together, and see where possible we assist in making it a better life for all."

He stated that as is proposed in our Plan of Action of the White Paper on Disabilities, which is to lead the country towards the implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, persons with disabilities are to be included wherever possible through the provision of facilities that are adequate to their requirements.

Minister Blackett lamented that too often Barbadians focus on the functional, and tend to neglect the recreational and social integration needs of persons with disabilities.

"Therefore, the Action Plan (of the White Paper on Disabilities) will, of necessity, speak to the issues of the right to equal access to leisure time facilities, independence, dignity, equity and justice. It will promote ongoing review and evaluation, the relevant standards of care, building standards and legislative amendments to protect against discrimination and safety," he said. 


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