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TCI: Beaches Resorts Elevates Commitment to Inclusivity During Autism Acceptance Month

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Organization To Become Recertified as Advanced Certified Autism Centers (ACAC) and Expand Offerings At Its Luxury-Included Family Resorts in Jamaica and Turks & Caicos


MONTEGO BAY, JAMAICA – In honor of Autism Acceptance Month, Beaches® Resorts has announced its expanded commitment to families with children on the autism spectrum, ensuring a safe, fun and comfortable vacation experience that’s tailored to their needs. With one in 54 children diagnosed with autism in the U.S., special needs travel continues to be one of the fastest-growing family travel segments and one that is severely underserved. Building upon an existing partnership with the International Board of Credentialing and Continuing Education Standards (IBCCES) – the global leader in cognitive disorder training and certification – Beaches Resorts has extended its Advanced Certified Autism Center (ACAC) accreditation through 2023 and continues to be the world’s first and only ACAC resort company underscoring its dedication to ensuring every family can enjoy the award-winning Luxury Included® vacation experience.

Through this ACAC recertification process, over the next several months, Beaches Resorts’ team members in Jamaica and Turks & Caicos will be eligible to participate in advanced autism training virtually, with an emphasis on the resorts’ key touch point areas, including kids camps, entertainment, front desk/reception, food and beverage and watersports operations. This recertification process will also expand to training of team members at the Airport Arrival Lounge/Reception Area in Montego Bay, Jamaica and Providenciales, Turks & Caicos, which offer the first point of contact for Beaches Resorts’ arriving guests.

The all-inclusive family resort company, in collaboration with IBCCES, will also launch a Sensory Stimulation Guide for guests with sensory needs, providing comfort and an understanding of what to expect in each designated area of the resort. The guide, which outlines the degree of sensory stimulation in a specific area or event, allows families to easily plan and navigate their visit based on their individual needs. Designated Low Sensory Areas will also be identified at all resorts, allowing guests to find comfort in designated spaces should they need a break from sensory stimulation. These locations will be easily identifiable through resort maps, onsite signage and in pre-travel planning materials.

“As the first resort company in the world to attain the distinguished ACAC credentials, we’re proud of the work we’ve accomplished to-date and look forward to findings new ways to demonstrate our commitment to autism acceptance and inclusion while creating an autism-friendly environment,” said Joel Ryan, Group Manager Themed Entertainment and Children’s Activities. “As the best-in-class, luxury vacation experience, we have always strived for an inclusive experience that allows parents to have confidence in selecting our resorts, knowing their children can feel comfortable and safe, have fun and make lifelong memories.”

In 2017, Beaches Resorts became the first resort company in the world to be recognized by IBCCES as a Certified Autism Center (CAC) and, as part of their larger Sesame Street partnership, also introduced Julia, a four-year-old girl on the autism spectrum, who brought an exclusive new activity to Beaches Resorts: Amazing Art with Julia. Two years later, the resort company then became the first to attain the Advanced Certified Autism Center (ACAC), recognized by IBCCES.

“Like the rest of the world, we know families and autistic individuals are looking forward to traveling, visiting new places, and making new memories as soon as they are able to. They are also looking for organizations that are trained and certified in autism, particularly leaders like Beaches Resorts, who go above and beyond,” said Myron Pincomb, IBCCES Board Chairman and CEO. “The professionalism, dedication and enthusiasm of the team at Beaches Resorts is second to none, and we are thrilled to continue our partnership to provide long-lasting support and impact.”

The Beaches Resorts ACAC recertification and extension builds on the existing measures in place to serve this specialized community as well as those with sensory sensitivities including:

• In-depth education for Beaches Resorts staff, with 40 credit hours on autism sensitivity and awareness, centered on communication, motor skills, social skills, environment awareness, emotional awareness, bullying, early childhood identification, transition to adulthood, and more.
• Advanced training with particular emphasis on the company’s Kids Camps, Entertainment, Food & Beverage, Front Desk/Reception and Watersports operations.
• An annual onsite audit and review by the IBCCES team.
• Changes to protocols and physical space to accommodate various needs.
• An optional service of ‘One-on-One Beaches Buddy’ providing personalized, private childcare with a buddy who is autism certified, and can be pre-booked for a nominal fee.
• A dedicated toll-free number to Beaches’ Special Services Team, certified by IBCCES, and able to assist both consumers and travel professionals who wish to learn more about a Beaches vacation and on resort autism programming.
• A Culinary Concierge program to support specific dietary restrictions and special requests.
• Modified check-in options for private, in-room, check-in.
• Availability of sensory toys as well as DreamPad pillows for children’s use.
• Modified design and decoration in Kids Camps and key entertainment areas to create a more sensory-friendly environment.

“Beaches Resorts is ‘walking the walk’ in this space and while they are humble about their efforts to serve the autism community, it’s important to note that they were the first travel company to do it, and do it right!” said Holly Robinson Peete, actress, activist and philanthropist. “With first-hand experience as the mom of a child (RJ) with autism, this space is near and dear to me, and inclusive travel on this scale is rare. I continue to applaud Beaches Resorts – and return with my family – as it’s truly a place where we all feel welcome and can relax and enjoy quality time together” Robinson Peete concluded.

Additionally, Beaches Resorts’ industry-leading Platinum Protocols of Cleanliness were created with consideration of guests with sensory disorders. While first meeting rigorous health and safety standards, the resort company ensures the use of low-fragrance cleaners, fragrance-free hand sanitizers and other products to ensure guests with sensory disorders have an enjoyable and safe experience. Complimentary COVID-19 testing is also available to all registered guests at Beaches Resorts prior to their departure.

For more information on Beaches Luxury Included® Resorts and its longstanding commitment to creating an autism-friendly environment, please visit https://www.beaches.com/all-inclusive/autism-friendly/.

Bahamas News

Statement From Hon. Fred Mitchell, MP Minister of Foreign Affairs On the Passing of Colin Powell

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#TheBahamas, October 18, 2021 – I learned this morning  of the death of Colin Powell, the American general and diplomat. I worked with him as Foreign Minister in my first term, particularly on issues related to Haiti.

Yesterday in the CARICOM meeting, I recalled while discussing Haiti his role in the crisis of that time. I recall his life, times and work as generally thoughtful and considered. He was also an example of Caribbean success in America, one to emulate. He was the son of Jamaican parents. He was an example of success as a Black man in America. I am saddened by his passing.

On behalf of the Prime Minister the Hon. Philip Davis, the government and people of The Bahamas, and in my own behalf, I extend condolences to the United States of America and his family.

 

 

Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Commonwealth of The Bahamas

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Bahamas News

CARPHA Team undertakes Assessment of Guyana’s National Surveillance System for Non-communicable Diseases

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October 14, 2021 – The Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) conducted a technical mission to Guyana from September 22nd – 25th, 2021 to undertake site visits as a part of an ongoing assessment of six (6) Member States’ systems for the national surveillance of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) and their risk factors. This activity was implemented in collaboration with the Ministry of Health Guyana through an Agence Française de Développement (AFD) – funded project.

The aim of the assessment s to provide evidence in support of the development of a Regional Surveillance System for NCDs, a priority under the regional health framework Caribbean Cooperation in Health IV (2016-2025).

During the mission, the CARPHA technical team reviewed the capacity of existing surveillance mechanisms in Guyana to collect, analyse and report on the NCDs and risk factor indicators proposed for the regional surveillance system. These indicators were recommended by a multi-stakeholder meeting series convened in 2020 under the AFD project, which reviewed global, regional, and sub-regional mandates, targets and practices in surveillance for the prevention and control of NCDs.

The CARPHA Team along with senior officials from the Ministry of Health conducted visits to two (2) health centres, the National Cancer Registry, Ministry of Health Surveillance, and Statistics Unit.  The results from the overall assessment will be presented to the Ministry of Health Guyana and will also be reviewed alongside results from similar assessments in Anguilla, Aruba, Jamaica, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and Suriname to inform the finalisation of the regional surveillance system design through a regional stakeholder meeting.

The regional NCDs surveillance system would facilitate the reporting and availability of data to inform policy development, planning, and tracking of progress towards meeting for targets NCDs at Regional and National levels.

Through funding from the Agence Française de Développement (AFD), CARPHA is leading the Region in Strengthening Strategic Intelligence and Partnership Approaches to prevent and control NCDs and Strengthen Regional Health Security in the Caribbean. This project, signed in 2019 with a value of €1,500,000.00, demonstrates the commitment of the Government of France and the French people to supporting the public health priorities of the Caribbean Community through CARPHA.

More information on the Project can be found at: https://www.carpha.org/Projects/Ongoing-Projects/Strengthening-Strategic-Intelligence-and-Partnership-Approaches-To-Prevent-and-Control-NCDs-and-Strengthen-Regional-Health-Security-In-The-Caribbean

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Bahamas News

World Sight Day: Love Your Eyes

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Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago.  14 October, 2021.  In the Caribbean, the leading causes of blindness are glaucoma, cataract and diabetic retinopathy (a complication of diabetes).  According to the Vision Atlas, 6.2 million persons in the Caribbean were reported to have vision loss, with an estimated 260,000 persons reported to be blind in 2020.

Information gathered from eighteen (18) Caribbean countries (Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas, Barbados, Bermuda, Belize, Cuba, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Grenada, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, Puerto Rico, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname and Trinidad and Tobago) with a population of 44 million, showed that the crude prevalence of blindness was 0.60%, and the prevalence of all vision loss was 13.20%. Many of the persons affected were females at 52%.

Global statistics reveal that for 2020, a total of 596 million persons had distance vision impairment worldwide, of this number 43 million were blind.  Projections for 2050, indicate that an estimated 885 million persons may be affected by distance vision impairment with 61 million expected to experience  blindness.

CARPHA’s vision for the Caribbean is a region where the health and wellness of the people are promoted and protected from disease, injury and disability, thereby enabling human development in keeping with the belief that the health of the Region is the wealth of the Region.

Although there are no projects that directly address vision impairment, CARPHA in collaboration with its public health partners is implementing initiatives to address risk factors such as unhealthy diets, use of harmful substances and poor physical activities. This in turn, will help reduce the risk of disability due to complications associated with poor blood sugar and blood pressure management.

Efforts to improve the standards of care for diabetes through the implementation of the CARPHA Guidelines on the Management of Diabetes in Primary Care in the Caribbean, and training of health care workers from the CARPHA Member States will also contribute to the prevention of vision impairment and blindness due to diabetes.

Access to eye care services can reduce visual impairment.  CARPHA urges Member States to strengthen health systems to improve eye health services with emphasis on reaching the vulnerable and those most in need.  Governments should commit to integrating eye care into the universal health care system.

World Sight Day is celebrated annually on the second Thursday in October.  The focus of the day is to bring awareness to blindness and vision impairment as a major public health issue and blindness prevention.

The 2021 commemoration observed on 14th October, seeks to encourage persons to think about the ‘importance of their own eye health.’

Our eyes are working hard during the COVID-19 pandemic. We have been indoors, in front of our screens, and probably missed our eye test appointments. Now more than ever, we need to protect and prioritize our eyesight. There are simple things you can do for yourself to prevent the development of serious eye issues:

  • Take screen breaks for at least five minutes every hour
  • Spend time outside.  Increased outdoor time can reduce the risk of myopia (near-sightedness)[3]
  • Get an eye test. A complete eye exam can detect eye conditions such as glaucoma before it has an effect on your sight. The earlier an eye condition is identified, the easier it is to treat.
  • Eat a healthy balanced diet and engage in physical activity. These are crucial steps in maintaining a healthy weight, controlling obesity, and preventing diseases such as diabetes, all of which can impact eye health.
  • If you have diabetes, you should have your eyes checked every year

Your sight cannot be taken for granted.  It is time to LOVE YOUR EYES!

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