Supervisor of Disability Services in the Ministry of Health Lorna Dawson has made an appeal for business owners in the territory to consider employing persons affected by different forms of disabilities such as Autism and Down’s syndrome.
The call comes as the British Virgin Islands, for the first time, joins in the global observance of World Down Syndrome Day today, March 21.
While encouraging businesses to make the bold move, Dawson gave the example of an individual who is doing well professionally despite her disability.
“We actually have a young lady with Down Syndrome, who volunteers two mornings a week at one of the pre-schools.”
“She is really business-like, knows what she wants to do, and has the potential [to succeed]. So we have her working alongside our therapists to groom her for full-time employment,” Dawson further stated.
Down Syndrome is a genetic condition where a person is born with an extra copy of chromosome 21. This condition leads to mild or severe impairment and physical abnormalities including short stature and a broad facial profile.
Presently, the Autism Centre provides services to two clients with Down Syndrome. BVI Services, which is the adult day programme for persons with disabilities, provides services to five persons with Down Syndrome.
Meanwhile, Dawson stated that, while the society on a whole has become more accepting of persons with disabilities, it still has some way to go.
“Just because someone has a disability, you don’t look down on them or treat them any less. You [should] include them in activities in society – even in the workforce.”
Persons are being encouraged to wear creative socks in observance of World Down Syndrome Day today.
Dawson explained that the idea of wearing creative socks is to stir conversation around the topic so as to increase advocacy for more services and policies to improve the lives of persons with Down Syndrome.
The following in an interview involving Lorna Dawson and a Government Information Service reporter.
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