June 2011 Archives


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by Shirley Barber

"Do you know what my favourite part of the game is?
The opportunity to play"

How Barbados is leading the way with adaptive sports

Barbados has been synonymous with cricket since the 1800's so it was not surprising that the island was also in the forefront with it's creation of the first blind cricket program in the Caribbean in 2001.


Inter territorial matches have since been played with   much success.  Barbados hosted the first regional   tournament in 2006 and in the same year,  became  the first territory to establish the Barbados Blind Cricket Association.  This was followed by the creation of the Jamaica Visually Impaired Cricket Association, T & T Blind Cricket Association. (Trinidad and Tobago) and Guyana Blind Cricket Association


There have been many "firsts" for Barbados, so at a time when global awareness of accessibility and inclusion are at the forefront,   might Barbados   once again demonstrate its   leadership by expanding its blind cricket program to include an all  disability program?


Cricket  and How it  has Survived  and Evolved into Including Persons with  all Disabilities


The earliest cricket  may have developed by the 8th century or earlier from   ancient bat-and-ball games from the region   between   North India and Pakistan.  The trend traveled through Persia (now called Iran)   and into Europe and Great Britain.  Initially, the game was called "creagh" or "cricke"   by the Normans who conquered England in 1066.


Cricket was banned from 1300 - 1500 A.D. as monarchs and British barons   favoured archery (which would serve as a military advantage) over  "such a disreputable activity that only idlers, gamblers and dissolute characters played".   Outlaws such as Robin Hood were rumoured to having been excellent players along with famous political leader Oliver Cromwell.


Deaf Cricket


Interestingly, the idea of "adaptive sports" came in the form of deaf cricket as far back as 1895 when the first deaf cricket interstate match was held in South Australia.   In Great Britain, deaf cricket started out as a Great Britain Team (part of the British Deaf Sports Council)   with a trip in 1988 to the West Indies by a squad of 15 players to play some matches against local teams.


Blind Cricket


In 1922,  blind cricket was developed by Australia.    At the time of a Test Match,  two creative residents thought "blind people could play cricket as well, and put rocks in a tin can" and began to play a crude version of the  modern day cricket .


Blind cricket  has also been played in England and Wales since the 1940's.  While the England and Wales Cricket Board,  established in 1997 in the U.K.,  is  the single national governing body for all cricket in England and Wales and provides access to the sport of cricket for persons with disabilities,  the British Blind Sport (BBS) and Blind Cricket England and Wales (BCEW) are the organizations who are responsible for the day to day running of the sport.


Physical, Emotional and Learning Disabilities


Along with the blind and deaf cricket,  the  Hampshire Cricket Board which was setup in 1998 in the U.K., has developed  categories and programs for persons with physical, emotional and learning disabilities,  HCB, whose mission statement is "to provide a cricketing future for all" has one of the most advanced disability cricket programs

in the country and works with professional players and coaches in assisting players with disabilities in training and competition .   


One of the newest programs HCB has launched is the Bluebird Care Elite Player Development Program for cricketers with disabilities who have international potential.   Hampshire Talented Athlete Scheme was formed to provide support services to these talented athletes based on their performance levels. 


The HCB also supports the Hampshire Visually Impaired Cricket Club in providing  opportunities for the blind and partially sighted.  


Cricket as Youth Development


Cricket for Change was setup in 1981 and targets disadvantaged youth as well as disabled youth.  Just recently, the team has traveled  to Trinidad and Tobago to introduce a new program called "Street20" which is a crime reduction program proven to be very successful  in the U.K.   As well, the team traveled to Jamaica in 2009  to launch The Courtney Walsh Foundation which replicates the Cricket for Change programs   specifically for  males and females 18 - 21.


Rules and Regulations


In disability cricket, the rules and regulations are disability specific, however there is no recognized international cricket for people with physical disabilities at the   present,  therefore the rules are based on a domestic structure called DSE profiling system for athletes with physical impairments also known as the Coaches Guide to Functional Ability.




Recognition for Barbados


Barbados already receives   recognition   for its excellence in regular and blind cricket as well as being a cricketing destination.  Through the "Fully Accessible Barbados" initiative launched by the BCD in 2005, Barbados has taken leadership in   creating a culture of inclusion.  The island is also known for its  mantra  of "can do" in the cricket world.  The cricket community along with the regular community has recognized and acknowledged what talented cricketers can contribute to the game rather than what their limitations are.


With 14,000 persons with disabilities on the island,   (in England and Wales there are between 3,000 and 4,000 persons with disabilities playing regular or occasional cricket at present),  creating an all disability cricket program would be welcomed.  Such a program would give persons with all types of disabilities an opportunity to play the sport of their island where they could develop their self confidence and social skills.   As well, the camaraderie along with the exhilaration and excitement of international competition can be experienced for the first time.


Barbados could introduce programs similar to the Hampshire Talented Athlete Scheme to recognize and support those disabled cricketers who demonstrate exceptional performance and could be considered for international competition


The island  could draw on the  expertise  of other cricket boards such as the Hampshire Cricket Board and the English and Wales Cricket Board. As well, Barbados could seek the support and input from non profit organizations such as BARNOD, Barbados Council for the Disabled,  Disabled Peoples' Organization of North America and the Caribbean (DPOC) and Disabled People's International.    There are ample resources to access with the deaf, physical, learning, and emotional disabilities programs already in place.  The combined efforts could  serve well to set the ground work for education and  training programs to encompass all the Caribbean islands and beyond.







Cricket for Change, Street20 and The Courtney Walsh Foundation would be excellent programs to integrate into the cricket world of Barbados.  Although the crime rate is low in Barbados, it is a known fact that sometimes poverty goes hand-in-hand with disabilities and where there is poverty, there is crime; particularly among youths. Street20  has been successful in reducing crime amongst the youth stating that  "the more kids play the more skills they develop, they learn cooperation, discipline and working with a team without getting angry;  it has had a lot of success bringing communities together ",


Barbados as the Caribbean's Champion and Host of Disability Cricket


On May 31, 2011, Hampshire Cricket announced   that the Barbados Tourism Authority will become the Official Twenty20 Shirt Sponsor and Travel Partner to Hampshire Cricket and The Rose Bowl.  Upon a previous visit to Barbados, Hampshire Cricket Group Commercial Director, Zac Toumazi said that Barbados' facilities and hospitality were   "second to none" and that "We hope that, in our own way, we can bring awareness to the jewel in the Caribbean that is Barbados."


Might there be a possibility that similar arrangements can be made with disability cricket?  Perhaps the Barbados Tourism Authority could consider reciprocal agreements with disability cricket programs in England, Australia, India, Pakistan, New Zealand, Sri Lanka, South Africa, Bangladesh and Nepal


If Barbados were to host  all disability cricket tournaments, the potential for increased tourism would be significant.  Regular cricket teams already visit Barbados annually and Test matches, especially between England and Australia alone bring in thousands, so the numbers would increase substantially.


In conclusion, creating a disability cricket program   could reaffirm Barbados' position as leader in accessibility, inclusion and adaptive sports in the Caribbean.  Moreover,   this  positive endeavour could contribute significantly to the enhancement of the initiative of  "Fully Accessible Barbados".











http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Test_cricket http://www3.hants.gov.uk/shiow/funding_and_support/talentedathletes.htmc


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Beach wheelchair tour by ENTER vzw.

The United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) is convinced that the facilitation of tourist travel by persons with disabilities is a vital element of any responsible and sustainable tourism development policy.

Announcing a new tri-lateral agreement with external partners, FundaciĆ³n ONCE and the European Network for Accessible Tourism (ENAT), the UNWTO aims to provide guidance in this area to policy makers, destinations and tourist enterprises.

Read the full article here:


Visit the UNWTO's dedicated webpage on Accessible Tourism

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MS Majesty of the Seas, one of Royal Caribbean...

Image via Wikipedia

The primary sources of tourism income for the Caribbean economy are also the countries with the highest tourist expectations of physical accessibility, disability-aware customer service, and legally-mandated disability rights practice: 

    • USA 
    • Canada
    • The countries of the European Union

Do Caribbean states measure up to customer needs once passengers disembark en masse from the cruise ships, saunter leisurely from yachts, or tumble expectantly from airborne sardine cans?

Although there is little evidence as prominent as Barbados' Fully Accessible Barbados each island has a degree of awareness. To what degree is this awareness institutionalized in the policy, staff, and programming of the Caribbean Tourism Development Company? 

So far, accessibility information is not there on CTCD's Caribbean Travel.com site:

The Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) and the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association (CHTA) are relaunching their marketing and business development unit, known the Caribbean Tourism Development Company (CTDC), a jointly owned and operated, private, for-profit entity created in 2007. The revitalized CTDC will market the Caribbean brand through licensing, merchandizing, advertising, and the sale of vacations via its website. The website, which will be redesigned, will include among other features, an integrated booking platform that specifically caters to the Caribbean's smaller hotels.

One of the new CTDC's emphases in the initial stages will be on reviving intra-Caribbean vacation travel. Funding for the CTDC will come from both the public and private sectors, with the joint owners each committing seed funding to be supplemented by CTO member countries. The new CTDC board of directors will include six members each from the CTO and the CHTA, with the leaders of the two organizations, CTO Chairman Richard "Ricky" Skerritt and CHTA President Josef Forstmayr, as co-chairs.

The CTDC is a marketing and business development unit owned equally by the CHTA and CTO. Its mission is to own, promote, protect, advance and enhance the Caribbean brand. The CTDC combines the resources of the Caribbean region's destinations, accommodations and service providers to create a cohesive business unit that is able to identify commercial opportunities and allow the members of CHTA and CTO to benefit collectively from those opportunities in ways that individually they could not. In all its endeavors the company will engage only in activities that honor the Caribbean brand and benefit the members of CHTA and CTO. 

For more information, visit www.caribbeantravel.com.

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This September I want to meet Victor Cooke in Barbados. 

He clearly has studied his ecosystem and honed a hands-on immersion and narrative about the island. Victor can be a key collaborator in shaping a "Fully Accessible Barbados." We will all benefit to the expent thatresources like Fieldfare and the National Trails Accessibility Center in the US partner with his organization, Eco-Adventures Barbados, and Barbadian government agencies.

Fieldfare works with people with disabilities and countryside managers to improve access to the countryside for everyone.

For countryside service providers we provide advice and training services, supported by our research into national standards for accessibility under the BT Countryside for All Project.

Fieldfare have recently created a new website www.phototrails.org.- Phototrails is an innovative concept that allows users to view countryside routes through a series of photographs and descriptions of the path features, taking in surface, path width, gradients, barriers and amenities such as seats, disabled parking, and accessible toilets, all of which, to some, is important information to know before making the decision on whether to visit a site or not. 


 Some of the trails, and trips, and experiences waiting in Barbados will remain the province of Erik Weihenmayer and his strolls up Mt Everest with his white cane or Paralympian Kurt Fearnly crawling the Kokoda Track. Still there must be some "Stop 'n Stare" routes on the Rock that I can manage. 

The National Trails Accessibility Center for the US notes that, when building accessible outdoor paths:
The minimum requirements found in the NPRM are based on several principles developed through the regulatory negotiating process. They include: 
A woman walks with a man using a wheelchair along a rocky trail.
The ultimate goal is to provide trail access for all to nature's wonders while protecting the environment through which these new trails pass.

-Peter Jensen, Trail Designer 
Open Space Management and Member of the Regulatory Negotiating Committee

 Protect resource and environment 
Preserve experience 
Provide for equality of opportunity 
Maximize accessibility 
Be reasonable 
Address safety 
Be clear, simple, and understandable 
Provide guidance 
Be enforceable and measurable 
Be consistent with ADAAG (as much as possible) 
Be based on independent use by persons with disabilities

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We Need Inclusive Play.jpg

A Guest Post by Shirley Barber:

Equine Assistance and Activities Therapy Programs 
(Hippo Therapy) 

"Disabled riders often experience independence for the first time in their lives"

The partnership between humans and animals dates back to the first domestication of animals in the Stone Age, as long as 9,000 years ago. It is a known fact that animals, whether service animals, therapy animals or household pets, offer a multitude of benefits to human beings . 

 From providing a lonely person with love and companionship to the amazing benefits of Hippo Therapy (Equine Assisted Therapy) , there is no doubt that animals help improve the quality of life for millions of people with physical and mental disabilities. 

 The Amor y Energia (AM-EN) (Love and Energy) Foundation is a well established, hippo therapy centre in Quito, Ecuador. It is an independent, non-profit charitable organization committed to the social development of disabled children and young people. Based in Quito, Ecuador, AM-EN was founded in 1995 by Heidi Paliz from Germany. The United Nation Voluntary Fund for Disability sponsored the centre from 1999 until 2005. Their mandate was as a training project at a national level in Ecuador and sub regional level in Central America as well as Colombia, Peru, Bolivia and Brazil. 

 Since its establishment, the Foundation has worked in the area of the rehabilitation of people with disabilities through riding therapy and other conventional and alternative therapies. Children, whose physicians had stated they would never be able to speak or walk, have, after some time at the Foundation, started to take their first steps and pronounce their first words and other children, previously rejected by educational establishments, have managed to begin their schooling. 

 The Foundation also rescues horses which are often badly treated in South America. Many of the older horses can earn their living through working with children with disabilities which in turn is therapeutic for those horses which have been abused. 

 Most of the people who receive therapy in Ecuador cannot afford to pay for the sessions. AM-EN relies almost exclusively on international grants and donations and the hard work of international volunteers. 

 AM-EN Foundation now works with Huasquila Amazon Lodge which has wheelchair accessible bungalows, Hacienda Primavera Wilderness Ecolodge, San Jorge Eco Lodges and Ecuador For All (Tours for persons with disabilities). All have seen the opportunities and benefits of collaborating to provide the best possible service and expertise while at the same time contributing to the local economy by attracting more tourists to Ecuador and raising awareness of hippo therapy, accessibility and inclusion. 

 Following Ecuador's example, how would Barbabos benefit?

 With its lush scenery and warm climate, Barbados could no doubt, provide a "ready-made" therapeutic setting for a hippo therapy program and possibly establish a partnership with the Barbados Equestrian Association. Already a popular and well-known tourist destination, Barbados could potentially work hand-in-hand with accessible travel specialists as well as the mainstream travel professionals. As the AM-EN Foundation has done in Ecuador, a hippo therapy program could also join forces with established accessible properties and accessible attractions in Barbados such as the Amaryllis Beach Resort, Harrison's Cave and Brown Sugar Restaurant.

Establishing a centre in Barbados could attract horse trainers, clinical specialists, therapists, volunteers and supporting staff globally and could be considered for membership of NARHA (North American Riding for the Handicap Association). NARHA has nearly 800 member centers and over 6,300 individual members in countries all over the world. With this in mind, Barbados could definitely make an excellent host for national conventions, offering international attendees additional package combinations of attractions and hospitality to enhance their stay before and/ or after their convention on the island. 

 Along with the potential of an increase in tourism, Barbados has approximately 14,000
We Need Inclusive Play.jpg
 persons with disabilities living within its' midst, some of whom could well use this service. As with the Am-EN Foundation, funding could come from international funds and donations. However, unlike Ecuador where there are over 1.6 million people with disabilities, most of whom cannot afford to pay for their "therapy" sessions, Barbados could no doubt, fare better in establishing a centre due to the fact that it has a moderately higher standard of living. Riding lessons could also be one way of offsetting the costs of the centre. As well, all Barbadian citizens are covered by national healthcare and could possibly have their "therapy" covered for by medical insurance

Thanks to pioneer Florencio Suarez Morciglio, neighbouring Puerto Rico is about to be the first Caribbean Island to offer a hippo therapy program Mr. Morciglio is a horse trainer and rider instructor in training and has been a NARHA member for the past 5 (five) years. He is presently in negotiations with the U.S.Government and NARHA regarding the setting up of a centre in Puerto Rico and would be an excellent resource. 

Clearly, establishing a hippo riding program in Barbados could open up a world of opportunities . Major benefits could include improved physical and mental health for Barbadians, an increase in tourism, a boost to the economy and bringing a new awareness of accessibility and inclusion. These factors could all contribute to this Caribbean island being well on its way to paving a friendlier path for persons with disabilities and to becoming a "Fully Accessible Barbados".


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