I Am Able conference closes with promise of Commission

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(Press Release)

At the closing ceremony of the I Am Able Conference at Government House on Wednesday (December 6th) evening, Health and Environment Minister Molwyn Joseph revealed that he had spoken to the Honourable Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda, Gaston Browne, and received the Cabinet’s approval to set up an I am ABLE Commission.

The Commission will have an office and a paid full-time staff. It will harness the optimism and ideas that emerged from the Conference and will serve to monitor, implement and enforce the Convention of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. It will be a place where persons with disabilities can register their complaints to ensure an accessible and inclusive society.

Minister Joseph said it was important that Antigua and Barbuda maintain the momentum and trajectory that has been established as a consequence of the I AM ABLE Conference.

Also speaking at Wednesday evening’s ceremony was Lady Sandra Williams, wife of His Excellency Sir Rodney Williams, Governor General of Antigua and Barbuda and Founder and President of the Halo Foundation.

Lady Williams announced three initiatives to assist Persons with Disabilities.

(1) Providing free public transportation for persons with disabilities from Barbuda if they wish to travel home before the end of the year.
(2) One scholarship per year for a child with special needs to attend the Victory Center.
(3) An annual award for a person with disabilities who have demonstrated exceptional abilities.

The Halo Foundation, the host of the evening’s event, provides technical and financial assistance to the organisations under the patronage of the Governor-General and Lady Williams and others who are vulnerable and in need.

Meanwhile, the speakers at the closing ceremony praised Antigua and Barbuda’s High Commissioner to the United Kingdom, Ambassador Karen-Mae Hill, for her invaluable role in the promotion and organization of the three-day I Am Able Conference.

His Excellency, Governor-General Sir Rodney Williams was particularly effusive, applauding High Commissioner Hill’s “commitment and passion for bringing the I Am Able Conference to the light of day.” He further described her as a “highly talented and committed national of Antigua and Barbuda who should be applauded for her work on behalf of the people of the twin-island state.

Other speakers at the closing ceremony were Mr. Sujae Boswell, the Commonwealth Youth Forum’s regional representative for the Caribbean and the Americas, Mr. Calvin Ayre, the President of the Calvin Ayre Foundation, the platinum sponsors of the I Am Able Conference, and Mr. Hasan Khan, a blind professional cricketer from Pakistan, who shared his story of acquiring a disability at the age of 3 and not having an education for the first 10 years of his life

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