People around the world celebrated International Day of Persons with Disabilities on 3 Dec., an annual observance proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly to promote an understanding of disability issues and mobilise support for the dignity, rights and well-being of persons with disabilities.
In Cayman, local organisations and educational facilities like Inclusion Cayman, Lighthouse School and Sunrise Adult Training Centre make it their mission to ensure students and clients do not suffer from social isolation. Towns like Camana Bay are meant to make a day out enjoyable for everyone.
Camana Bay designs its buildings to U.S. accessible and usable buildings code standards.
Pavements have ramps and restrooms are wheelchair accessible. Elevators have buttons at a reachable height, braille signs and buttons for the visually impaired. Ground gradients are kept manageable and the town complies with requirements for accessible parking. In fact, several several blue spots feature disabled parking signs designed and illustrated by Lighthouse School students and the cinema also has specifically allocated handicapped seating spaces.
“Our students have attended a number of different trips to Camana Bay," Lighthouse School teacher Laura Brind said. "It is a great place to practice life skills such as money skills and other community skills. They enjoy [going] to Häagen-Dazs, Gelato & Co., the cinema, the tower and Foster’s."
Particularly important is giving the students a chance to gain the valuable insight of working a job. Brind was happy to report that some of her older pupils had completed placements at both Red Sail and the cinema.
Beyond the wide walkways and car-free areas that make for safe access, Brind said that the staff at Camana Bay play an equally important role in creating a positive atmosphere.
“We have always found the staff welcoming to our students and they are willing to answer any questions and provide extra support when needed,” she added.
No visit to the town is complete without a proper stop at the water fountains, and often shoppers will see children splashing about in them while parents happily sit nearby in the shade.
Brind said it is always a highlight for her group.
“Many of our students enjoy playing in the fountain. Water play is a big favourite [of theirs] and provides a fun, sensory experience, particularly for our autistic population," she said, noting Camana Bay has hosted yearly Autism Awareness events, including fun runs/walks and concerts.
When Brind was asked what she felt was the single most important facility that the town offers for the disabled, rather than focusing on a physical item, she echoed the UN’s goal for everyone to promote the integration of persons with disabilities.
“I think the most important aspect is that our students feel welcome at Camana Bay. It is a relaxed location to visit that celebrates diversity,” she said.
This article will also appear in the December/January print edition of Camana Bay Times.
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