Disability Affairs Unit
Celebrating Persons with Disabilities

Students of TecVoc sing and play drums at the thanksgiving service to celebrate International Day for Persons with Disabilities

The Tobago Coordinating Committee for Persons with Disabilities (TCCD) hosted a thanksgiving service in observance of International Day for Persons with Disabilities, yesterday, Tuesday 03rd December, 2019 at the Lowlands/ Hampden Multipurpose Facility. International Day for Persons with Disabilities is observed annually on this date by the United Nations (UN), and this year’s theme was ‘promoting the participation of persons with disabilities and their leadership: taking action on the 2030 Development Agenda.’

 
1st Cohort of Signers Graduate

Members of the Children’s Sign Language Class during their performance.

“The use and knowledge of this new language can save a life.” This was one of the sentiments shared by Dr. Eastlyn Mc Kenzie, President of the Tobago Council for Persons with Disabilities at the Graduation Ceremony for the Council’s first Sign Language Class, which was held at the Red Cross facility, Signal Hill earlier today, 14th August, 2019. Dr. Mc Kenzie delivered the feature address.

 
4th Annual Music Festival Held for Children with Special Needs

Students of the Tobago School for the Deaf, Speech and Language Impaired perform their medley of songs, led by the teachers.

On Monday 1st July, 2019 the Consortium of Disability Organisation (C.O.D.O), in collaboration with the Division of Health, Wellness and Family Development hosted the 4th Annual Music Festival for Children with Special Needs at the Gulf City Mall, Lowlands, Tobago.

Participating in the festival were three schools from Tobago which included the Tobago School for the Deaf, Speech and Language Impaired, the Technical Vocational Centre for Persons with Disability (Tech Voc) and the H.O.S.T Bless Love-Serve Foundation Reading Academy.

Attending the day's festivities was the Vice President of the C.O.D.O, Mr. Bhawani Persad visiting from Trinidad. The festival saw students perform a variety of songs, with some playing drums and percussion instruments, and others were moved to dance.

 
FREE Sign Language classes!

Free Sign Language classes at the Happy Haven School, Signal Hill

Tobago Council for Persons with Disability presents Lest's Sign 2019 where persons will get the opportunity to participate in free sign language classes at the Hapy Haven School, Signal Hill, Tobago from July 8th - August 9th, 2019 from 10.00 am to 11.30 am.

The classes are open to ages, and there is a registartion fee of $20.00. No spaces will be held as participants will be registered on a firsdt come, first serve basis.

For more information you can contact 639-3167.

 
Health Fair for Persons with Disabilities

Prime Minister's Health Fair

The Prime Minister Charity Golf Classic, The Tobago Council for Handicapped Children and The Peters Family Foundation, with assistance from The Tobago Regional Health Authority, have come together to host a Health Fair for persons with disabilities.

The Health Fair is scheduled for Wednesday 1st May 2019 on the compound of The Happy Haven School, Signal Hill from 9:00 am. to 2.00 pm.

The Health Fair will include increased health awareness through the free screenings, information, literature, demonstrations and activities, and many more.

 
DHWFD Appoints Committee for Persons with Disabilities

The MOU has been signed! Chairman of the Tobago Coordinating Committee for Persons with Disabilities (c) flanked by Honourable Kelvin Charles, Chief Secretary of the THA and Councillor Dr. Agatha Carrington, Secretary of Health, Wellness and Family Development. Included in the photo are Mrs. Dianne Baker-Henry, Administrator in the Division of Health, Wellness and Family Development (l) and Ms Dotsie Bacchus, Deputy Chairman of the TCCD.

“We all have a responsibility to help persons with disabilities to live as much of a normal life as possible.” These were the overarching sentiments made by the Honourable Kelvin Charles, Chief Secretary of the Tobago House of Assembly at the Appointment Ceremony of the Tobago Coordinating Committee for Persons with Disabilities (TCCD) and the Signing of the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the TCCD. The events were held at the Conference Room of the Division of Health, Wellness and Family Development earlier today, Tuesday 16th April, 2019.

 
Celebrating International Day of Persons with Disabilities

Students from both TECVOC and Happy Haven School perform a drumming item, accompanied by their drum instructor Mr. Courtney Potts (2nd from left).

“Empowering Persons with Disabilities and Ensuring Inclusiveness and Equality,” this was the theme for this year’s observance of International Day of Persons with Disabilities, held annually on 3rd December. The Tobago Co-ordinating Committee for persons with Disabilities (TCCD) took the opportunity to host a celebratory event for the persons of the differently abled community at the Canaan/ Bon Accord Community Centre on Monday 3rd December, 2018.

 
Caregivers being Trained to Improve the Level of Care Delivered to Persons with Disabilities

Mr. Preston Mc Pherson (standing), a trainee introducing himself to everyone present.

The Division of Health, Wellness and Family Development in collaboration with the Tobago Coordinating Committee for Persons with Disabilities is conducting a three-day workshop to train Caregivers of Persons with Disabilities. The training began on Tuesday 24th July, 2018 at the Division’s Conference Room, Habib Building, Wilson Road and will end on Thursday, 26th July, 2018.

 
Special Olympics of T&T (Norma James Community Caravan)

Special Olympics of Trinidad and Tobago (Norma James Community Caravan) held its “Tobago Games” on May 2nd, 2018 at Shaw Park. Students of Happy Haven, Tobago Technical Vocational Centre for Persons with Disabilities and Tobago School for the Deaf, Speech and Language Impaired competed in bocce, football and various sprints and walking races.


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Autism Tobago's Tree Lighting Event

Dr. Agatha Carrington poses for a photo with members and supporters of Autism Tobago


“Our Division’s presence here today is our commitment to continue on the journey we have started a year ago.” This according to Councillor Dr. Agatha Carrington, Secretary of Health, Wellness and Family Development at the tree lighting ceremony and launch of Autism awareness month, which was held by Autism Tobago on Friday, 6th April, 2018 at the Botanical Gardens, Scarborough.

The Secretary in the delivery of her remarks explained “the Division has met with various special needs stakeholders on the Island, including Autism Tobago, to plan and provide a framework for the delivery of the services they require.” Dr. Carrington added that the Division has provided space for these organizations to meet and soon the Division will provide training for caregivers of special needs children.

Dr Carrington said, “though the Division has its part to play on this journey, a lot more needs to be done. All partners must work together to improve the quality of life of all persons affected by Autism.” She further advised that the commitment to raise awareness of Autism must go beyond the tree lighting ceremony. The Secretary said “we must understand the challenges persons with Autism experience and continually work together to deal with these challenges.

In her feature presentation, Dr Dionne Imara, Senior Clinical Psychologist at the Child and Adolescent Centre, Tobago Regional Health Authority made a call to action for all persons present. She declared “we all have a part to play to ensure persons with Autism are recognized. We need to get rid of stigmatism. We need to ask Autistic persons about the things they need to improve their lives.” Dr. Imara went on to explain in detail, the challenges persons with Autism face and the type of support they require to become more integrated into society.

Before the tree was lit, Mrs. Ria Paria, Chairman of Autism Tobago urged everyone to continue the conversations to raise awareness about Autism. She said “when you pass on the highway and see the blue lights, share information with the persons in your vehicle about Autism, tell them the purpose of this initiative and the significance of blue. The ceremony ended with the attendees surrounding the tree before the lights were turned on by Mykhal Paria, who is an Autistic child.

Autism Tobago is a non-governmental organization comprising parents, professionals and interested parties, to give a voice to people with autism living in Tobago and their families. They interact and collaborate with all sectors of society to provide support, services, education, advocacy, research and training.

The interlocking, mutli-colored puzzle piece has become the international symbol of autism and its significance has become multi-faceted. It represents the mystery and complexity of the disorder, and also the mechanical nature of an Autistic persons’ thought process. Despite this official symbol, blue has been associated with Autism, which signifies peace and honesty. The colour blue is not only about keeping the conversation going about autism but it also ensures that those with autism and their families do not feel alone.

 
Brunch with the Secretary

Dr. Agatha Carrington welcomes guests to the brunch at the Division's Head Office.

Councillor Dr. Agatha Carrington, Secretary of Health, Wellness and Family Development sought to conduct her meetings with the public, in her capacity as Secretary of Health, Wellness and Family Development in focus groups as opposed to individually.

As a result, “Brunch with the Secretary” was proposed as a meaningful way for persons to meet with the Secretary, encourage persons to candidly share their relevant concerns and for them to receive feedback from the Secretary.

Additionally, since groups of persons may have similar issues, the Secretary saw this undertaking as a more constructive approach to avoid redundancy and to encourage peer support – persons can learn from each other as it pertains resolving issues on their own.

The first meeting targeted the management of 24 differently differently abled and special needs stakeholders. Some of the organisations included:
- Down Syndrome Family Network
- Autism Tobago
- Happy Haven
- Peters Family Foundation
- Tobago School for the Deaf
- Technical Vocational Centre for persons with Disabilities
- Tobago Council for Handicapped Children

 
Celebrating the Excellence of TecVoc's Students

Students of the TecVoc Centre in celebratory mood during their Open Day.

“TecVoc is as important to Allison as oxygen.” These were the sentiments of one of the parents of a student at the Technical Vocational Centre for Persons with Disability’s (TecVoc) Achievement and Open Day on Thursday 07th December, 2017, Carrington Drive, Bon Accord Development.

Giving her remarks at the event, Councillor Dr. Agatha Carrington, Secretary of Health, Wellness and Family Development stated, “Although [their] interacting may be a little different [it] doesn’t make them any less than us.” The Secretary further noted that there will soon be collaboration between the Division and the US with schools similar to TecVoc. She said, “Having just come from a meeting with the US Consul, in moving forward, there will be collaboration with the US with regard to the support we require. We were able to arrange for the delivery of chrome test books which will be here either this week or next week, access to teachers in the US via online and access to support from other schools in the US similar to Tecvoc.’

Coordinator of the TecVoc Centre for the past seven years, Ms. Althea Barton, beamed with pride as she spoke about the various activities that the students are involved in, “from remedial work which include Mathematics, English and Social Studies, to mixed craft and agricultural work. We have included Therapeutic Intervention for the past three years which include Music with CODO (Consortium of Disability Organisations) in Trinidad, swimming at the YMCA and horseback riding with Healing with Horses at Buccoo.”

Currently, there are five staff members at the Centre and Ms. Barton indicated “We would like to see parents more involved with the students. They might learn to make something today, but they don’t practise at home, and we want parents to support the students at home as well,” Staff members suggested that collaborations can be done with organisations so that the students can be open to other activities. “The students love to dance, so we would like to collaborate with COMDEV to have a dance tutor to work with the students. We would like other professionals to volunteer to work with our students to enhance their skill in hairdressing and sewing,” explained Ms. Yvette Lincoln, one of the staff at the Centre.

In preparation for the day’s event Ms. Bacchus indicated that the students were quite eager to display their work, “we started practicing for the speech band, the TecVoc Speechifiers, about three weeks ago. We have been rehearsing every day with Christmas carols and the drummology. Some play the recorder and the keyboard, so the students were looking forward to this day.”

Mr. Avery Seaton, neighbour to the students at the TecVoc Centre, came to the Achievement and Open Day with his entire family and he said it was a pleasure to be in close proximity to the Centre. He said, “I open my windows, and now my doors every morning to listen and take in the praise and worship together with the drumming from the students.” He urged them to continue their good work and to keep on drumming.

The students of the Centre performed Christmas carols, a drummology session with Mr. Courtney Potts and various dances and songs. Teachers and students of the Tobago School of the Deaf, Speech and Language Impaired, were also present to show their support, with student Kevon Joseph, singing and performing a dance at the event. The staff at the Centre openly thanked all persons and organisations who continue to assist them regularly and parents of the students who continue their support.

The Achievement and Open Day was held so that students of the centre can showcase to the public their talents and skills on what they would have learnt throughout the year. This event is held annually in commemoration of International Day of Persons with Disabilities, which is observed globally on 3rd December.

 
Blind Welfare Assoc. tribute to its founder

A group photo of members of the Blind Welfare Assoc. (Tobago arm) and Secretary of Health, Wellness and Family Development

On Friday, 19th May, 2017 the Blind Welfare Association of Trinidad and Tobago, the Tobago Affairs Committee, held a public tribute to its founding father Mr. James Augustus Alves, who started work for the blind on 18th May, 1914. The event was held in front of the Scarborough Port, in the middle of the town. 

Secretary of Health, Wellness and Family Development, Councillor Dr. Agatha Carrington gave the feature address at the tribute, while Mrs. Linda Phillips-Samuel and Mrs. Barbara Bruce-Figaro related some of their life experiences of a being and visually impaired person.

Members of the Association took the opportunity to showcase some of the creative piesces of baskets which were on sale to the public. 
The annual event is usually a collaboration with the Disability Unit of the Division and it is aimed at raising awareness of blindness in Tobago.

 
International Day for Persons with Disabilities 2015

Students of the Tech Voc Centre serenade attendees with Christmas carols.
The Technical Vocational Centre for Persons with Disabilities, commonly referred to as the Tech Voc Centre, is located at Simeon Drive, Allfields, Lowlands and the staff and students, together with the Disability Affairs Unit, of the Division of Health and Social Services, held an Open Day at its location to observe International Day for Persons with Disabilities. This day is observed annually on3rd December, held the theme 'Inclusion matters; access and empowerment of people of all abilities.'

 
Tec Voc's Open Day!

The students of the Tec Voc Centre during one of their performances.
The students and staff of the Technical Vocational Centre for Persons with Disabilities, a programme under the Department of Social Services, of the Division of Health and Social Services held an Open Day on Thursday 11th December, 2014 at Ghany Building, Scarborough. The Open Day was held in commemmoration of International Day of Persons with Disabilities which is observed annually on 3rd December.

It was an opportunity for the public to see and experience the students in their full splendour as they showcased their skills in drumology, singing and even dance! The students, all uniformed, performed a repertiore of songs as they provided the entertainment for the morning's event which inlcuded Christmas carols in time for the upcoming season.

The Assistant Secretary of Health and Social Services Assemblyman Sheldon Cunningham gave the feature address and remarks were given by the Director (Ag.) of Social Services Department, Ms. Lennis Scipio. The teachers of the Centre were acknowledged for their dedication and commitment to working with the students. In the spirit of giving, the Division of Health and Social Services treated the staff and students of the Centre to lunch and a Christmas treat. 

 
Sports with the Tec Voc family

Secretary Claudia Groome-Duke and some of the participants at the Sports Day
The Technical Vocational Centre (Tec Voc) is an established school which provides effective skills and educational opportunities

 
Autism Awareness Walk

Autism Walk 2014

The Division of Health and Social Services, in collaboration with Autism Tobago, hosted an Autism Awareness Walk through the streets of Scarborough on Friday 11th April, 2014. Persons were gathered at the APT James Park, Uptown Scarborough where an address was given by Assistant Secretary of Health and Social Services, Assemblyman Sheldon Cunningham. The walk, led by members of the Boys Brigade, moved onto Main Street, then onto Milford Road and proceeded to the Milford Road Esplanade.

The aim of this awareness walk was to highlight that Autism was a real developmental disorder that affects the functioning of the brain. It appears during the first three years of life and is typically characterised by difficulties in three main areas, namely:

- Communication (verbal and non-verbal)

- Social interaction (how one interacts with other people)

- Imagination (how one perceives and reacts to the world)

World Autism Day was observed wordwide on April 2nd, 2014 but the entire month of April was chosen to bring awareness to Autism.

 
Secretary of Health Claudia Groome-Duke, delivers an early New Years Gift


Secretary of Health and Social Services, Assemblyman Claudia Groome-Duke, delivers an early New Years gift to Mr Rupert King of Backhill Trace, Whim Tobago.

Mr King, who recently suffered a stroke, received a brand new wheel chair from the Division of Health and Social Services. An elated King said that he was grateful for the donation which will solve his mobility issues.

Ms Ethlyn John, Administrator of the Division of Health and Social Services, was also on hand for the presentation.