The Disability Services Division in the Social Development Department handed out certificates to 19 participants in five subject areas today as World Disability Day is observed in the territory.
The participants were certified in meal preparation, horticulture, water skills, ‘myself and others’, and everyday living. The Autism Programme Director and Supervisor for Disability Services in the Social Development Department Lorna Dawson said the participants in the certification programme have more modules to complete as each module have another step to it.
“For example, we have those who did horticulture. Some of the next steps is learning how to count money, manage money and basic numeracy skills so that they can sell their produce. So, right now we are assisting them with things like that,” Dawson said.
Dawson added the certification programme has various modules which have a three-year lifespan and once they are purchased, the department must try and finish them within the time span for moderation. She noted the participants can be certified locally but the Disability Services Department decided to send samples to the United Kingdom and have them certified.
“We send samples to the UK and they looked through them and they were satisfied with the level of completions and then they send that official certificate saying ‘okay, we moderated and we are satisfied that you know what you are doing. You’ve marked it correctly’,” she explained.
The Disability Services Supervisor added that her department has been working with the participants in job placement but the coronavirus
pandemic has halted the progress they have made over the last few years.
“We are using this time now to work on the feedback we got from the employers in terms of areas of weakness. We are working on those areas to build them so when things settle down again, we can try to get some of them out in the job market again,” Dawson said.
Meanwhile, Special Needs Education Officer, Afiya Smith said the certification of the participants can empower them to rise to the occasion and show the community the skills that the individuals learned during the programme.
“It shows that they can hold employment and independently live once we give them the opportunity. So, the certification is intended to propel them to another level; motivate them and their families. Show them that the disability does not limit who they are but it gives them an opportunity to do something. It says ‘I can cook, I can sew something, I can organise, I can put things in sequential order’,” Smith said.
The Special Needs Education Officer who led the participants in a dance to close the ceremony said it was a very heart-warming moment for her to see them dancing while members of the Virgin Islands
community watched and supported them.
“This is heart-warming, so seeing the participants engage in dancing today shows that they have a means of sharing light. Some are maybe able to communicate well and some may not but dancing is a form of art that everybody can read through without words. We can see the expression in movement so we are aware that there is something inside of them that is strong. Telling them that they can make it,” Smith said.