Ria gets wheels
June 17, 2005
Ria gets wheels

Three-year old Ria Burke has been crippled from birth. The infant from the village of Chester Cottage has never moved around without the help of someone holding her in their arms. Now, thanks to initiative of the National Society of Persons with Disabilities and the Disabled Society of Trinidad, Ria’s dependency on others will soon be broken as she gets accustomed to her new form of mobility via the wheel chair. {{more}}

Little Ria was one of 12 recipients of wheelchairs, which resulted from that partnership between the Trinidadian society and the local organisation, which is celebrating 18 years.

To mark its milestone, a church service was held on June 10 at the Salvation Army in Kingstown, where the wheelchairs were handed over to the recipients or their representatives.

Addressing the gathering, President of the National Society of Persons with Disabilities, Patricia Cumberbatch noted that, although strides have been made among people with disabilities, there are still persons who hide family members with disabilities away from society.

Mareeze George who spoke on behalf of the Ministry of Social Development congratulated the organization on its 18th year of existence and encouraged the members to persevere and focus on their achievements. George also urged the organization to continue to speak on behalf of the disabled and pledged continued assistance from her Ministry.

As he delivered the sermon, Major Ronald Ellis of the Salvation Army referred to the 18 year old, National Society of Persons with Disabilities as an adult. He praised them for never giving up their struggles and noted that many people aspire for good things in life and give up when their efforts become difficult.

He made an example of the man in St. John 5:1-9 who, for 38 years, suffered with an infirmity but never gave up until Jesus healed him. He said this type of determination is needed if one wants to achieve their goal, “Your friends may even say it is time to give up, retire and call it a day, but you must be determined.”

Major Ellis preached that, in pursuing ones goals, one must not have the “IMM” or the “I, Myself and Me” syndrome and treat persons with disabilities as a burden.

Members of the Mental Health Centre were also in attendance at the service where Deputy Governor General Acting, Sydney Hazell and Physiotherapist, Jennelle Ballah presented the 12 wheel chairs. Valedictorian at the recently held School for Children with Special Needs graduation, Vaughn Edwards received a trophy, while a special song was rendered by the teachers of the Helping Hands Centre. One minute’s silence was observed for teacher Calvert Woods who passed away on June 2.

Meanwhile, Public Relations Officer of the National Society of Persons with Disabilities Melanie McKenzie expressed hope of bringing on stream a Skills Training Centre for Persons with Disabilities.

She pleaded with employers with vacancies to give disabled persons a chance to earn and be independent. McKenzie noted that, for too long, politicians had sidelined and marginalized the disabled. She emphasized that the disabled have votes, which the politicians would need. And observed that in the three manifestos of the political parties, disabilities were given little or no recognition and disabled persons would be asked to sign a petition that would be taken to political parties to ensure that they do more for them.

The anniversary was celebrated under the theme “Eighteen years of Togetherness Striving for Equality.”