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Beaches Resorts Becomes First Resort Company In The World To Attain Advanced Certified Autism Center Credential

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#Providenciales, May 1, 2019 – Turks and Caicos – With Autism Awareness Month coming to a close, Beaches® Resorts is proud to announce its commitment to enhancing its autism-friendly resorts by now becoming the first resort company in the world to attain the Advanced Certified Autism Center (ACAC) designation by the International Board of Credentialing and Continuing Education Standards (IBCCES). This new certification training to be completed in May spans all three Beaches Resorts – Beaches Negril Beach Resort & Spa and Beaches Ocho Rios Spa, Golf & Waterpark Resort in Jamaica, and Beaches Turks & Caicos Resort Villages & Spa in Turks & Caicos – with a core focus on the company’s Kids Camp, Entertainment and Watersports operations, as well as staff from other areas of the resort. In April 2017, Beaches Resorts led the charge and became the first resort company in the world to be recognized by IBCCES as a Certified Autism Center (CAC).

With one in 59 children diagnosed with autism in the U.S., special needs travel is the fastest growing family travel segment. Beaches Resorts’ new level of commitment to this underserved market empowers its staff to confidently ensure every family can enjoy the award-winning Luxury Included® vacation experience in a safe, fun and comfortable manner tailored to their specific needs.

“We are proud to continue paving the way for families with individuals who have special needs, including children on the autism spectrum, to travel comfortably and truly live up to our tagline – the ‘Resorts for Everyone’,” said Adam Stewart, Deputy Chairman of Sandals Resorts International. “As a family-built brand, we want to provide all families with a superior level of service that makes them feel the most welcomed at our resorts. We are especially excited to further expand this important training to our resort’s watersports program, with PADI® certified dive professionals and other team members earning a special ‘ACAC’ designation for each Aqua Center at Beaches, allowing children on the spectrum to safely experience the incredible waters of the Caribbean.”

The Certification Process & Special Services

The ACAC designation is the next level of certification once an organization has achieved the CAC certification. It underscores that the organization has gone above and beyond to train its staff and provide substantial modifications for visitors with autism or similar sensory needs, and designations are granted by the IBCCES.

The ACAC certification process – which will come to life across different aspects of the resorts, both pre-travel and on property – entails a variety of important aspects including:

  • An in-depth training of 40 credit hours on autism sensitivity and awareness, in the areas of communication, motor skills, social skills, environment awareness, emotional awareness, bullying, early childhood identification, transition to adulthood, and more. 
  • Activities and accommodations that must be available for guests on the spectrum
  • An annual onsite audit and review
  • Substantial changes to protocols and physical space to accommodate various needs

Special Services include the option of a ‘One-on-One Beaches Buddy’ – personalized, private childcare with a buddy who is certified by IBCCES, and can be pre-booked (for a nominal fee) – as well as:

  • A personalized pre-travel questionnaire to identify requests and preferences with a dedicated Special Services team to assist in the vacation planning process
  • A Culinary Concierge program to support specific dietary restrictions and special requests
  • Modified check-in options for private, in-room, check-in and the availability of sensory toys for children during check-in
  • Identification of quiet spaces during noisier times of the day and evening
  • Modified design and decoration in Kids Camps and Entertainment areas to create a more sensory-friendly environment

Since achieving the CAC certification in April 2017, Beaches Resorts has also been instrumental in extending training to hundreds of its travel agent partners, as well as internal sales and marketing teams, through IBCCES’ Certified Travel Agent Professional (CATP) in an effort to better communicate with and assist families within this highly specialized market.

“Beaches Resorts has gone above and beyond to lead the hospitality industry toward a more inclusive future for all families seeking unforgettable vacations tailored to their needs,” said Myron, Board Chairman of IBCCES. “By becoming the first resorts to achieve the ACAC certification, Beaches is even more prepared to welcome families with autism, and we applaud them for their ongoing commitment and leadership in providing travel options for this underserved market.”

Calming Waters

Beaches Resorts’ watersports teams have also earned another first – staff have completed the ACAC training and certification, and are among the first to earn the designation in conjunction with a collaboration between the Professional Association of Dive Instructors (PADI) and IBCCES. The certification makes appropriate programming from autism-certified staff available for families looking to enjoy daily PADI-certified diving at the company’s world class dive operations, voted Top 10 in the world. According to a recent study of 1,000 parents with a child on the spectrum, 87 percent would be more inclined to visit centers where staff are trained and certified in autism awareness. Many individuals on the autism spectrum are drawn to water, and the Autism Spectrum Disorder Foundation (ASDF) highlights that swimming can help children on the spectrum improve speech, coordination and balance, social skills, self-esteem, cognitive processing, communication skills and oral motor skills.

“Diving has frequently proven to be a transformative and healing experience for individuals with physical or emotional challenges and their families,” said Kristin Valette-Wirth, Chief Marketing Officer of PADI Worldwide. “We are honored to work together with our global network of dive centers and resorts, including our longtime partner in Beaches Resorts, and IBCCES to offer more opportunities for those with special needs to heal, explore and connect through diving. Together with Beaches Resorts and IBCCES, we look forward to inspiring and enabling more travel and shared experiences for all to create lifelong memories that have the power to transform lives.”

The Introduction of Sesame Street’s Julia

In September 2017, as part of its long-standing partnership with Sesame Workshop ®, Beaches Resorts introduced the arrival of Julia, a Sesame Street Muppet on the autism spectrum, who brought an exclusive new activity to Beaches Resorts: Amazing Art with Julia. During this activity, children are greeted by Julia, a 4-year-old girl on the autism spectrum, who loves to paint. Julia highlights how people can express themselves through art, and children can explore, experiment and create in an open-ended art activity. As part of brand-wide efforts to increase awareness of autism, all Beaches Resorts staff underwent sensitivity training with “Sesame Street and Autism: See Amazing in All Children” resources. 

For more information about Beaches Resorts’ autism-friendly resorts in the Caribbean, please visit https://www.beaches.com/all-inclusive/autism-friendly/.

Release: Sandals Resorts

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TCI Sport delegation visits the Cayman Islands and Barbados with key sport leaders

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TCI Sports Commission delegation traveled to the Cayman Islands and Barbados to visit with key Sport leaders. The TCI delegation included the Sports Commission Director, Mr. Jarrett Forbes, Deputy Director, Mr. Alvin Parker, and Facility Manager for Providenciales, Mr. Darian Forbes. The aim of the travel was to visit major facilities, with priorities being pool facilities, and discuss sport development strategies.

The team had the pleasure of being hosted by the Deputy Chief Officer for Sport, Dr. Dalton Walter, and the Director of Sports, Mr. Kurt Hyde in the Cayman Islands; who facilitated the facility tours and shared valuable information on Sports Development. Meetings were held with Deputy Chief Officer Ms. Joan West and Technical Director for the Cayman Islands Aquatics Sport Association, Mr. Jacky Pellerin, on the Cayman Islands’ new 50-meter and 25 meter 10 lanes Mrytha pool facility, as well as with Ms. Shakeina Bush from the National Olympic Office on National Federation development and funding opportunities. The Sports Commission delegation was also grateful for the courtesy call with the Minister of Sport for the Cayman Islands, Hon. Isaac Rankine, and the Chief Officer Ms. Teresa Echenique.

During the Barbados leg of the exploratory travel, the Sports Commission team was hosted by the Director of the National Sports Council, Mr. Neil Murrell, and the Assistant Director of Sports, Mr. Ryan Toppin. The TCI team toured the National Sport Council facilities and visited the Barbados National Olympic Association. Significant to the TCI’s plan to develop an aquatic center, the TCI Sports Commission visited the Barbados Aquatic Sport Association and met with former National Olympic Academy Director, Mr. Dave Farmer, and the President and Second Vice President of the Barbados Swim Association, Mr. Robert Armstrong and Mr. Nicholas Mathis. Insights were shared regarding swimming pool design, development and maintenance as well as pool programming strategies to ensure the growth and sustainability of swimming in the islands.

The TCI delegation also visited other stadium facilities such as Track and Field, Football and Cricket, and other major facilities in Basketball and Boxing. The TCI Sport Commission officials had great discussions with both the Cayman Islands and Barbados sports officials surrounding the development of coaches, athlete development pathways, and strengthening relationships with National Sport Governing Bodies.

Director of Sports, Mr. Jarrett Forbes, said, “We were very grateful for the hospitality and support extended by our Caribbean colleagues. Their support affirmed the commitment and unity among the Caribbean community to develop sports in the region.”

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SIDS drowning in debt as sea levels rise

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Garfield Ekon

Staff Writer

 

June 7, 2024 – United Nations (UN) Secretary General, His Excellency Antonio Guterres has said that international financing is the “fuel for sustainable development” but small island States are running low on the funding.

Addressing  day two of the Fourth International Conference on Small Island Developing States (SIDS24), in Caribbean twin island nation of Antigua and Barbuda, the Secretary General said while financing is low, the countries are drowning in debt and rising sea levs due to Climate Change.

“You are leading by example, but too often you are facing closed doors, from institutions and, adding that the COVID-19 pandemic and other global happenings have negatively impacted vulnerable economies, and “battered by a Climate catastrophe they did not create”, he told the gathering.

The SIDS countries are paying more to service their own debt than they invest in healthcare and education, the UN chief warned, leaving the nations unable to make the investments they need to meet the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Many of the States are classified as middle-income, shutting them out of the debt support reserved for the poorest nations, the UN Chief argued that vital actions are needed from international financial institutions, in addition to an immediate SDG stimulus for the SIDS nations.

He outlined that the debt burden should be relieved, by providing access to effective relief mechanisms, including pauses in payments during times of economic volatility, while also transforming lending practices by changing the rules on concessional finance to lower borrowing costs. “You cannot finance education and health with 15-year loans. Let us make SIDS a real priority in everything we do,” he said.

Prime Minister of Barbados, Mia Mottley said there was simply no political will on the part of the developed world to make the financial system work fairly,  as she enquired  how many  of those leaders have turned up in Antigua. “We are not seen”, she said, adding that “we continue to be serfs” when it comes to the power imbalance.

Small Island Developing States (SIDS) are in the crossfires of multiple crises: Climate Change, the economic and social repercussions of COVID-19, and a crisis of debt. The pandemic hugely impacted all island nations, especially those dependent on tourism. Global lockdowns left large holes in islands’ coffers and severely set back efforts to invest in the SDGs.

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Transcultura lauded at SIDS gathering, wins Partnership Awards 2024

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Garfield Ekon

Staff Writer

 

June 7, 2024 – The United Nations (UN) programme, Transcultura, which seeks to integrate Caribbean, and the European Union through Culture and Creativity, has been selected to receive the Small Island Developing States (SIDS) Partnerships Awards 2024.

Operate under the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), it is the largest programme in Latin American and the Caribbean, and is a four-year initiative for young cultural professionals, artists, and entrepreneurs from 17 Caribbean countries.

Implemented in three languages, it provides them with opportunities for their future, in the region and in Europe, through training, support to entrepreneurship, networking and mobility programmes. With 15 million euros (16.5 million US dollars) provided by the European Union (EU), Transcultura is also the most significant EU investment in culture in the region.

In four years, over 1,600 young people from 17 Caribbean SIDS have benefited from the programme, with more than 50% being women. Through a combination of in-person and online courses, 600 cultural professionals have been trained. It has also facilitated cooperative cultural exchanges involving over 200 organisations from the Caribbean and the European EU. 

The programme resulted in the establishment of the Caribbean Cultural Training Hub, which fostered synergies between key educational institutions in the region. The award’s jury recognised the transformative impact of the Transcultura programme, empowering young people in the region to become agents of change and development in their communities through culture and creativity.

It was established by UN Member States in 2021 to recognise the efforts of the best and most notable partnerships in the implementation of the SIDS Accelerated Modalities of Action Pathway (SAMOA Pathway). The goal is to inspire others to embark on such partnerships with SIDS.

Transcultura programme leverages the rich cultural diversity of the Caribbean as a driving force of sustainable development through cooperation and exchange within the Caribbean and between the Caribbean and the EU. It aims to create professional opportunities for young people in the Cultural and Creative Industries.

Beneficiary countries are: Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Cuba, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Grenada, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, Montserrat, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname and Trinidad and Tobago.

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