Minister of Social Services and Urban Development, the Hon. Frankie A. Campbell began consultations towards the development of a comprehensive plan for the community of persons living with disabilities. The plan is expected to include legislation. Minister Campbell recently held separate discussions with Mrs. Sheila Culmer, a noted disability rights advocate and trailblazer, and former President of the Bahamas National Council for Disability (BNCD), and officials of the Physically Challenged Children’s Committee at the Ministry’s headquarters, located at Aventura Plaza, Bethel Avenue and John F. Kennedy Drive.
The Social Services Minister was joined in the meeting with Mrs. Culmer by Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Social Services and Urban Development, Sherrylee Smith; Kim Sawyer, Deputy Director, Department of Social Services; Lorraine Duvalier, Assistant Director, Department of Social Services, with responsibility for the Senior Citizens Division, Disability Affairs Division, Research and Planning and Health Social Services; Gillian Bethell, Assistant Director, Disability Affairs Division and Maria Kelley, Executive Secretary, Secretariat of the National Commission for Persons with Disability.
Minister Campbell said discussions will be held with the approximately 17 non-governmental organizations (NGOs) that are involved in advocacy for persons with disabilities in The Bahamas in order to meet the objective of inclusion in the comprehensive plan.“We will be meeting with all of our NGOs, individually and/or collectively, as this will enable us to come up with a comprehensive plan which will include the legislation. “Mrs. Culmer has been a long-time advocate for the community of persons with disabilities in The Bahamas. She has been involved, and in the trenches. She has played a major role in the introduction of the decal that is used for parking in spaces allocated to persons with disabilities. As we contemplate legislation, all of the stakeholders will have some input because the legislation must speak to all persons with or without disabilities and so this meeting was just moving in that direction.”
Minister Campbell then met with officials of the Physically Challenged Children’s Committee (PCCC) headed by Chairman Terrance Bain. The Minister was joined by Parliamentary Secretary in the Ministry of Social Services and Urban Development, Michael Foulkes; Permanent Secretary Sherrylee Smith; Deputy Director Sawyer, Assistant Director Bethell and Executive Secretary Kelley. Chairman Bain headed the delegation from the PCCC and was accompanied by Committee Members, Robin Hayes, and Rosemary Sands. The PCCC was established in 1954 under the banner of the Crippled Children’s Committee. “Beginning in 1954, the Committee has been assisting persons with disabilities particularly as it relates to mobility,” Minister Campbell said. “As we advance in our discussions relative to the community of persons with disabilities and the need for legislative support and protection, it is only fitting that they are a part of the discussion. We value every partnership, notwithstanding the size of the NGO.”