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/.
International GANG behind DEADLY crime wave says TCI Premier
By Dana Malcolm
#TurksandCaicos, September 29, 2022 – International gangs are at least partially behind the unusual and tragic flare up of violence in the Turks and Caicos over the past month according to Washington Misick, TCI Premier. He made the revelations in a National Address on Monday (September 26) night after the third double murder of the month.
“September has seen organized crime gangs including gangs with international and external affiliations fighting for control of the drugs money and territory in these islands. We are now subject to crime generated not just within our borders but without.”
In response, the country leader said resources were being mobilised to find those responsible ‘whether they are here or elsewhere’.
The premier did not delve into where these international affiliations were or which major organized gangs were reaching into the small archipelago.
The revelation does answer in part at least the perplexing question of why the sheer number of violent killings has risen so dramatically in a little over three weeks. For context 11 of the islands 22 murders this year were committed during that time.
It’s not only international gangs, the drug trade has been fingered by Misick as a major driver of the killings in the TCI. In a previous press conference Misick stressed, “At the heart of the gun violence in this country is drugs, that is what the fight is about and we all know that’s what the fight is about.”
In response the Turks and Caicos Islands Government is calling in the cavalry. TCIG has requested reinforcements from the Caribbean, North America and Europe, the premier has revealed.
Several immediate actions are to be implemented in the coming weeks and they include:
- More police officers will be deployed on the street especially in affected areas. While the regiment will not be joining them in the field they will they will take over administrative duties and maritime duties to free up more officers
- An official letter has been sent to the Foreign Commonwealth development office and Prime Minister Liz Truss requesting military and police assistance. A response is expected shortly with “specific deliverables”
- Jamaica, Barbados and the Bahamas have all been contacted to lend police reinforcement which Misick said “should result in boots on the ground” after ‘encouraging’ calls.
- A request to the US Department of Homeland Security for surveillance aircraft to patrol the ocean between TCI and Hispaniola to stop all types of smuggling.
- Twenty-three officers will arrive in the coming days along with a inspector and a chief superintendent to set up a drug gun and gang unit.
- Interim and permanent forms of air support are being procured
- Armored vehicles for police are being purchased and will arrive in the islands in three months
The new measures reflect the gravity of the situation and the request for heavier police presence as made by members of the public;many who are now grieving slaughtered loved-ones say the steps should have been made a lot sooner.
Storm Troubles as September heats up late
By Sherrica Thompson
September 27, 2022 – Hurricane Ian moved near the Cayman Islands and was forecast to intensify rapidly and hit Cuba as a major hurricane late on Monday and then strengthen into a Category 4 hurricane in the Gulf of Mexico before striking the west central coast of Florida on Wednesday.
Now millions in Tampa Bay, Florida are bracing for impact after a hundred year absence of any major storm.
So far, authorities in Cuba have suspended classes in Pinar del Rio province and planned evacuations on Monday as Ian gained strength and approach Grand Cayman and the Cuban provinces of Isla de Juventud, Pinar del Rio and Artemisa. Cuba was also shutting down its train system ahead of the worst weather.
Senior Specialist at the United States National Hurricane Center Daniel Brown told The Associated Press early Monday that “Cuba is expecting extreme hurricane force winds, life-threatening storm surge and heavy rainfall.”
In the Cayman Islands, members of the government and opposition were working together to ensure that people were made as safe as possible and provided with supplies, plywood, and in some cases sandbags so that they could safely weather the storm, according to Premier Wayne Panton in a video on Sunday.
As of Monday, September 26, most of the customers on the island of Bermuda have received power with just about 200 properties still without electricity.
Last week Hurricane Fiona brought heavy rain and strong winds to the island causing about 29,000 customers, more than 80 per cent of the island’s sole power provider, Bermuda Electric Light Company to be without electricity on Friday morning.
The island has also started its restoration process and announced that it has reopened for business.
Meanwhile, in Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic, more than a million people in the two countries are still without power and running water after the passing of Hurricane Fiona over the Islands last week.
A growing number of businesses in Puerto Rico, including grocery stores and gas stations, are temporarily closing across the territory as the outages drag on, sparking concern about the availability of fuel and basic goods.
As of Saturday, at least 16 people had died because of Hurricane Fiona, according to Puerto Rico’s Department of Health, which is tracking hurricane-related deaths on the island.
Utility, Telecoms Companies Prepared for Peak of Atlantic Hurricane Season
#Kingston, Jamaica, September 27, 2022 – As activity in the tropical Atlantic intensifies, the island’s major utility companies have indicated their preparedness for severe weather conditions.
Jamaica Public Service (JPS) Senior Manager, George Kates, said that the company has invested heavily in its disaster-preparedness plans, which were continually developed using many years of lessons. He said that critical staff and third-party contractors are mobilised and emergency operation centres throughout the island are ready to be activated, when needed.
Additionally, he indicated that in disaster, the JPS maintains contact with the security forces and the National Works Agency (NWA), “because we can recover as fast as they allow us because they have to be ahead of us to clear roads and make way for our team to move”.
“I can comfortably say that the JPS is in an advanced stage of readiness. We are ready to respond to any eventualities,” Mr. Kates assured.
He was addressing a special committee meeting of the National Disaster Risk Council at the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development in Kingston on Friday (September 23).
During the meeting, which was convened by Portfolio Minister, Hon. Desmond McKenzie, key private and public-sector entities outlined their state-of-readiness for Tropical Depression Nine, which strengthened into Tropical Storm Ian.
While the country was spared the worst effects of the system, it has since developed into a major hurricane and is expected to impact Cuba and Florida.
National Water Commission (NWC) Chairman, Mark Barnett, in noting the entity’s readiness, said that measures have been put in place to prepare for adverse weather conditions. He noted that key townships across the island have been equipped with standby generators and that all NWC facilities in deep rural or urban areas will continue to operate “as long as it is safe to do so”.
He pointed out, however, that where the weather becomes severe, some facilities may experience disruptions or may be forced to shut down, especially those that rely heavily on reasonable quality water flow from rivers.
“We are making strides to ensure that we have the necessary infrastructure and necessary capacity in place for responsiveness, knowing very well that we are a [small] island state and we are subject to these events,” Mr. Barnett said.
“All in all, we feel pretty comfortable in terms of our preparedness,” he noted.
As it relates to telecommunications, the island’s two main providers also told the committee meeting that they are ready to face a disaster if one strikes.
FLOW’s Senior Compliance Manager, Keniesha Brown Plunkett, outlined that the company has put 12 disaster plans in place, which allows for response to situations in a timely manner. She said that using lessons from the past, FLOW has actively trained its coordinators to respond to certain protocols and has identified key personnel in each parish, with the regional crisis management team also on standby if the local team requires assistance.
“We have tested our satellite phones that we have in stock and we’re also happy to say that we are supporting the national disaster programme. We have contributed to vests, we have sourced signs, and we [have helped to] ensure that shelter management programmes are up and running,” Mrs. Brown Plunkett noted.
Some of the challenges experienced by the company that may affect its disaster response include the theft of infrastructure, which includes batteries and copper wires, and damage outside the plant network caused by motor-vehicle accidents.
To mitigate these, the company has activated monitoring and tracking on its devices, sensitised communities to monitor any irregularities, and has undertaken routine assessments. There’s also an environmental management programme in place to manage hazardous waste, said Mrs. Brown Plunkett. Furthermore, the company’s corporate communications team actively monitors and sends out alerts to the public, in the event of a weather system.
“That includes our technical team that ensures that our sites are ready, that our facilities are topped up with fuel, that we have double-checked batteries to ensure complete reliance, that we have coordinated with our partners to make sure that they, too, are ready, that we establish lines of communication around the emergency messages,” Mr. Parkinson said.
He noted that the company had assured its business customers of the lines of communication and the strategies it will be undertaking, to maintain business continuity.
Additionally, the company had activated its social media pages to be used as a ‘community hub’ for information and to convey updates from the Government.
“As we do, we are supporting the overall government of Jamaica’s command and control communication efforts, and those efforts are going to be critical to getting Jamaica back on its feet again [in the event of severe weather],” he said.
The Atlantic Hurricane season runs annually from June 1 to November 30. Mid-August to about mid-October is considered to be the peak of the season when, statistically, the tropical Atlantic becomes the most active, and experiences the most dangerous storms.
Contact: Mickella Anderson
Donald De La Haye photos
1st insert: Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, Hon. Desmond McKenzie, addresses a special committee meeting of the National Disaster Risk Management Council at the Ministry’s office in Kingston on Friday (September 23).
2nd insert: National Water Commission (NWC), Chairman, Mark Barnett, addresses a special committee meeting of the National Disaster Risk Management Council at the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development in Kingston on Friday (September 23).
3rd insert: FLOW’s Senior Compliance Manager, Keniesha Brown Plunkett, outlines the company’s disaster preparation plans during a special committee meeting of the National Disaster Risk Management Council on Friday (September 23) at the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development in Kingston.
4th insert: Digicel’s Head of Public Relations, Elon Parkinson, discusses the company’s disaster preparation strategies during a special committee meeting of the National Disaster Risk Management Council at the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development’s Hagley Park Road headquarters on Friday (September 23).
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