By Ingrid Fernandez
The Belize Assembly for Persons with Diverse Abilities (BAPDA), this week, elected new officials to steer the organization for the next two years.
The organization’s new team consists of Roxanne Marin as president, Rasha Dawson as vice president, Noreen Martinez as treasurer, Kent Young as assistant treasurer, Berndina Eck as secretary, Francis Gill as assistant secretary and Wayne Usher, Leigh Flowers and Rose Armstrong as advisors.
The organization also celebrated its Christmas party at the Mental Health Welcome Center on Tuesday.
Eva Middleton, BAPDA managing administrator said the group organizes for missions of specialists twice a year to provide services to disabled people, for example, prosthesis, which has been its most provided service.
The organization actively advocates for better services for the disabled.
BAPDA also works closely with the Human Development and Transport departments to achieve these goals.
BAPDA is currently working on a proposal with City Emergency Management Organization (CEMO), and other partner agencies, focusing on establishing protocol to respond to emergencies involving disabled persons.
In the area of education, BAPDA brings missions from Canada to engage non-disabled people and teach them how to care for the disabled and the elderly. The missions also provide physio-therapy.
“Last year we did quite a number of activities, every first Tuesday of the month, where we talk about things like how to approach the police, and how should the police deal with persons with disabilities. If I don’t know how to speak how do you deal with me?” Middleton asked.
BAPDA, a largely grass-root organization, mostly operates in Belize City because of a limited budget, $25,000 for a two-year span. It caters to more than 500 members and operates a telephone line to answer the needs of disabled people from the districts.
Currently BAPDA is working with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to receive funding from the Japanese Government.
In early 2016 the organization will arrange for a prosthesis specialist to visit for two weeks and build prosthetic legs. In the latter part of January the group will work with different churches to provide access equipment such as wheelchairs, crutches and walkers for approximately 65 persons.
The BAPDA was started in 1985 by the late Phillip Goldson to advocate and promote the rights of persons with disabilities.