Minister of ??Social Care, Christopher Sinckler (centre), in conversation wth President of the Barbados Council for the Disabled, David ‘Joey’ Harper and participant in the workshop, Dorian Pile.

A series of national consultations will be one of the means used to hear the views, concerns and issues of persons with disabilities (PWDs).

Minister of Social Care, Christopher Sinckler, made this promise today at the opening of the Sexual and Reproductive Health Workshop for Parents of Youth with Disabilities, hosted by the Barbados Council for the Disabled and the United Nations Population Fund at the United Nations House.

Minister Sinckler stated that the stories of PWDs had to be heard by everyone, including Cabinet Ministers.

"I am going to be speaking with officials in the Ministry as we go through our reform process to ensure that a … series of national consultations are held across the country on the issues of persons with disabilities – their care, their assistance, the laws and the various mechanisms that are present and those in particular that are not present- that are needed to mainstream those persons in the society…," he said.

Mr. Sinckler added: "I am also going to extend that beyond persons with disabilities in our reform process to ensure that our government departments hear from, and listen to, those persons who are the clients of their various services."

The Minister disclosed that this process would possibly start with the Welfare Department, so that "the public would get an opportunity to express their views about how they believe the service provided by this Ministry can be improved for the betterment of the clients they serve and the general development of the Ministry".

Addressing some of the difficulties persons face in raising children with disabilities, Mr. Sinckler told the parents present that the Ministry had introduced a number of programmes aimed at breaking down the barriers to communication which they could make use of.

He also touched on the belief that children with disabilities were not sexually active and pointed out that those children had the same sexual urges and drives as other adolescents and were at a higher risk because of their inability to negotiate safe sex practices.??

"They, therefore, need to be educated on how to protect themselves against unplanned pregnancies, HIV and AIDS and other sexually transmitted infections. Such information must be made available in accessible formats, including alternative communication formats to overcome the challenges of illiteracy, visual and hearing impairments; such information must be available now," Minister Sinckler advised.

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