Poor regard for disabled athletes

Caregiver Felicia Inniss is unhappy with the way athletic events for young disabled people are being treated in Barbados, and has even blamed parents for not supporting their children.

Inniss was a panellist last night at a National Disabilities Unit discussion at The St Michael School where she noted that the annual athletics event for disabled persons was shifted from Sundays to the middle of the primary and secondary schools sports because of poor parental support.

Special Olympics is no longer on Sunday because children would be entered for events, and parents would not bring them,” she said.

Also on the panel for the discussion that attracted a small group of people were United Nations National Resident Coordinator for Barbados, Michelle Brathwaite; UNDP disaster and risk management specialist Ian King; president of Deaf Barbados Inc, Lionel Smith; and veteran fire officer Patrick Edwards. Moderator was Permanent Secretary In The Ministry Of Agriculture Dr Lennox Chandler.

Inniss, a mother of  a disabled child and counsellor at the Branford Taitt Polyclinic, said that the athletic event for the special needs children was put in the middle of the primary and secondary school athletics finals in the hope of attracting more persons, but as shown Wednesday, that strategy was also not working.

“The schools that used to have Special Ed units, where they used to send the children to watch other athletes perform, they don’t even do that any more,’ she said. “So basically if you are a Special Olympian, you go to the Stadium, you perform before an empty Stadium and all is well with the world.”

“It really pained me to see NAPSAC was the day before and the Stadium was full. I know the Stadium was full again today. Special Olympics get put right in the middle of NAPSAC and BSSAC and you got 25 people in the Stadium.”

“We always say we are a caring society . . . [and] not even to come to the Stadium and clap your hands . . . . People are embarrassed to be identified with disabled people,” she contended.

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