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Caribbean News

JAMAICA: Assistance for Special Needs Children



#Kingston, February 13, 2019 – Jamaica – Eighty special needs children have been given equipment to deal with their circumstance,   by the Ministry of Labour and Social Security, in partnership with the World Bank and the Japanese Embassy.

The handover of wheelchairs, hearing aids and walkers to parents and guardians took place at the Early Stimulation Programme location on Hanover Street in downtown Kingston, on Tuesday (February 12).

Minister of Labour and Social Security, Hon. Shahine Robinson, said the assistive aids will go a far way in allowing the recipients and their parents to focus on their abilities.

“Our goal as a country is to empower persons with disabilities and to have that inclusive society for all,” she said.

The Minister also thanked the partners for offering assistance. “Allow me to place on record, on behalf of the Government and people of Jamaica, sincere appreciation to the World Bank and the Government and people of Japan for their unwavering support for social protection programmes,” she added.

For his part, Counsellor, Deputy Head of Mission in the Embassy of Japan, Shinichi Yamanaka, said his country is pleased to have donated towards children living with special needs in Jamaica.

“The Government of Japan proudly supports the highly important matter of social and economic inclusion of persons with disabilities, especially the most vulnerable, children with special needs who require assisted technologies, manipulative and other critical resources that allow them to develop their skills and abilities,” Mr. Yamanaka said.

“Japan shares the same idea and vision with the Government of Jamaica for the inclusion of persons with disabilities,” he added.   

Meanwhile, Director, Early Stimulation Plus, Mrs. Antonica Gunter Gayle, expressed gratitude on behalf of the students and parents who received the equipment.

“It’s not just about assisting a child. It’s not just about mobility. For me, it [the donation] is about equality. It is about opportunity. It is about the quality of life. It is about inclusion and it’s about changing lives.  Seeing our children being given this assistance gives me a really good feeling,” she said.   

Cecile Johnson, who accompanied her grandchild who is living with cerebral palsy, said she is extremely grateful for the new wheelchair that she received.

“It will assist my granddaughter to sit up, and while going to school, it’s a special chair that allows her to sit up [in class], because she can’t sit up by herself. The seat has braces, including one for her head,” she said.

Parent, André Forrester, who also has a son living with cerebral palsy, said he too is grateful for the walker. 

“The walker will help with his mobility and that will help him to explore. It should also get him more interested in stuff and will help with his entire learning process, just by increasing his mobility,” Mr. Forrester said.

Since its inception in 1975, the Early Stimulation Programme has been transforming lives and making the future brighter for youngsters living with varying types of developmental disabilities.

Administered by the Ministry of Labour and Social Security, the Early Stimulation Programme caters to children, from birth to six years, who are living with challenges such as cerebral palsy, autism, intellectual disability and children with various forms of mental and physical disabilities.

Release: JIS

Contact: Ainsworth Morris

Photo: Michael Sloley

Header: Minister of Labour and Social Security,  Hon. Shahine Robinson (left),  greets  parent, Denzell Walker (right), after his son, Joshua Walker (centre), who is living with cerebral palsy,  received a new wheelchair on Tuesday (February 12), at the Early Stimulation Programme’s offices, in downtown Kingston. Sharing the moment are Permanent Secretary in the Ministry, Colette Roberts Risden and Counsellor, Deputy Head of Mission in the Embassy of Japan, Shinichi Yamanaka.

First Insert: Minister of Labour and Social Security, Hon. Shahine Robinson (second left) and Permanent Secretary in the Ministry,  Colette Roberts Risden (second right), assist parent, Jody Thomas (left), with placing her son, David Forrest (second left) behind his new special needs walker, on Tuesday (February 12) at the Early Stimulation Programme’s offices in downtown Kingston. Sharing the moment is Counsellor, Deputy Head of Mission in the Embassy of Japan, Shinichi Yamanaka.

Second Insert: Special needs child, Brittany Bailey (right), expressing gratitude to (from left) Counsellor, Deputy Head of Mission in the Embassy of Japan, Shinichi Yamanaka; Minister of Labour and Social Security, Hon. Shahine Robinson and Permanent Secretary in the Ministry, Colette Roberts Risden, after receiving her new wheelchair on Tuesday (February 12), at the Early Stimulation Programme’s offices in downtown Kingston.  

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Bahamas News

Cruising should slow down says PAHO



By Dana Malcolm

Staff Writer


‘Slow down on Cruising’, that’s the word from the Pan American Health Organization, PAHO in their latest recent press conference.

Dr. Ciro Ugarte Director of Health Emergencies at the PAHO was referring to the Bahamas but made sure to note that the advice was highly relevant to many countries in the times of omicron.

“In the context of intense transmission, due to the Omicron variant as we have highlighted several times. It is just logical to suspend or at least limit the cruise ship traffic as an outbreak on board might end up exceedingly high and probably will go beyond the capacity of local health services”

Both the Bahamas and the Turks and Caicos are experiencing a massive uptick in cases and several warnings regarding cruise travel have been issued by the US Centers for Disease Control.

Cruising just resumed for many regional countries this past Summer, Turks and Caicos was among the latest to restart on December 13.

A stop to sailing would be devastating to economies, however, ports of call like Grand Turk which are reeling with rocketing case numbers of COVID are urged to consider the suggestion of slowing down on ships by PAHO.

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Caribbean News

Cayman gets its second ‘Sir’; former Premier Alden McLaughlin knighted on Jan 1



By Dana Malcolm

Staff Writer


#Cayman, January 20, 2022 – Former Premier of Cayman Alden McLaughlin was knighted at the start of 2022; named in the Queen’s New Year Honors List. He is only the second Caymanian to have ever received a knighthood from her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.

Sir Vassel Johnson, received the honour in 1994; he was Cayman’s first Financial Secretary; he died in November 2008 at the age of 86.

Current Governor, Martyn Roper extended congratulations saying, “This is an outstanding personal achievement for former Premier McLaughlin, one of the most important and impactful political leaders in Cayman over the last 21 years. It is a significant moment for our islands. This historic award is only the second ever Knighthood to a Caymanian since the first in the 1990s. It is a strong signal of the respect in which Cayman is held and a visible demonstration of the progress Cayman has made as a vibrant democracy with strong good governance foundations.”

Sir McLaughlin, who is also now a QC attorney, served two terms as premier and had a career in politics that spanned 21 years. McLaughlin is known for his role in modernizing Cayman’s constitution.

Current premier G. Wayne Panton described the occasion as a unifying moment for the country saying, This is a day of celebration and great pride for all Caymanians as a son of our soil has been bestowed one of the highest honour.  Today marks a new and most unique storyline in the history of the Cayman Islands.  In considering the rarity and magnitude of this occasion, this is certainly a unifying moment for our community.”

Sir Alden McLaughlin, 60, was appointed as a Knight Commander of the Most Distinguished Order of Saint Michael and Saint George on January 1, 2022.


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Caribbean News

Understanding Sargassum with help from the TCI’s Department of Environment & Coastal Resources  



By Sherrica Thompson

Staff Writer


#TurksandCaicos, January 20, 2022 – Sargassum, also known as seaweed, is a natural brown macroalga that lives in temperate and tropical oceans of the world. The floating micro eco-system is important to many species, including baby turtles, little crabs, and tiny fish. All these animals use the floating rafts of the sargassum for protection, shelter, and food.

Over the years, sargassum has been increasing its quantity in the Caribbean due to climate change. As water temperatures increase, sargassum blooms, and as this continues, it occurs in large amounts. This can be dangerous for some marine life because when seaweed washes up on the shore, some species become trapped in the sargassum mat.

Environmental Outreach Coordinator at the Department of Environmental and Coastal Resources for TCI, Amy Avenant, says the Turks and Caicos Islands has not seen the worst of the overgrowth.

“In the Turks and Caicos Islands, we have not seen the full severity of sargassum blooms. Our neighbours in Bonaire, for example, experience up to six feet of sargassum, and they have found stranded dolphins, sea turtles, and sometimes even birds,” said Amy Avenant.

“When the sargassum washes up on shore, it starts to decompose, and when it decomposes, it emits methane, and that is the stinky sulfuric eggy smell that you can smell when you walk past it on the beach. It is a bad thing for climate change because of the methane, but it is not harmful to your health.”

Turks and Caicos saw this in extreme amounts in October; so severe, resorts were forced to bag and bury the stinky seaweed which for over a week covered the usually sandy white stretch of Grace Bay beach.

Avenant noted that in the TCI, we have a balance between managing the influx of sargassum and impacting the areas where it lands because its influx is correlated to the cycles of the moon.

She also said sargassum can be used as a fertilizer in farming. If you collect it, the advice is to spread it out and ensure you wash the excess salt off before adding to your gardens or farms.

There are also hidden dangers and habitat threats to the piles of sargassum on shorelines.

Avenant informed, when you see sargassum on the beach, ensure you watch out for wildlife that might be stuck and species which might have made a home of the ocean’s deposit which has washed up, this is heightened on rocky shores.

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