Origins of the Council
In 1976, out of a meeting to address the needs of Barbadians with disabilities, the "Barbados Council for the Handicapped" was born at the home of Chief Justice Sir William Douglas. Two months later the Council was officially launched at the Annual General meeting of the Barbados Association for Mentally Retarded Children.
The Founding Members of the Council were:
Principal Officers were President -Sir William Douglas, Vice President - Mrs. Ilene Murray-Aynsley, Secretary - Mrs. Jacqueline Griffith Banfield and later, Mr. Tony Marshall as the Treasurer.
The key objectives of the Council were outlined in its constitution:
With these strong objectives, the beginning of the decade of the eighties saw the Council focusing on a number of projects for implementation:
These challenges coincided with the International Year of Disabled Persons in 1981 and were followed by a period of heightened awareness of disability issues.
After Sir William Douglas relinquished the post of President in 1983 the following persons served as Presidents:
The Council dedicated much of its efforts to highlighting its goals and developing strategies for their realization.
The programmes at the time were:
Mr. Peter Serieux B.C.H., elected to serve as President in 1993, became the first person with a disability to hold the post. For the first time, the Council acquired office space, which ensured that the Council functioned both effectively and efficiently in its activities.
Under the guidance of a Legal Advisor, the Council reviewed and amended its Constitution to become incorporated as a non-profit company. The organisation was restructured at its 1994 Annual General Meeting, with a new Board comprising of a President, Vice President, Secretary, Treasurer and Public Relations Officer as well as four floor members.
The organizational priorities during the 1990s were:
Government recognition was gained through a workshop entitled Introduction of a National Policy for Persons with Disabilities. As a result, the Council actively engaged in the establishment of a national Task Force on Persons With Disabilities as well as participating on the National Advisory Committee on Disabilities for duration of two years.
One of the highlights of this era took place on 3 December 1997 when the National Disabilities Unit was formed. Later, on 25 January 1999, the Ministry of Social Transformation was formed and numerous aid agencies, including those for the disabled, fell under this Ministry’s portfolio. The Barbados Council for the Disabled immediately established a working relationship with both the Unit and the Ministry.
Under the Presidency of Mr. Clevedon Mayers, there was continued expansion, growth, recognition and improvements in education, public awareness and technology, including the creation of the Council’s website. The annual subvention from government rose from $7,000 in 1999 to $105,000 in 2000 and government’s relations with the Council strengthened.
The strategic direction of the Council was charted in October 1999 and the Strategy Document which was formulated, encompassed many of the organization’s goals and achievements.
In 2001, the Council acquired its first fully accessible bus, which quickly became an integral part of the transportation service. This bus is assigned to transporting children with special needs to and from school.
Another program of national significance was the introduction of Blind Cricket to Barbados in 2002-2003. Through this sport, the general public began to see another dimension to persons with disabilities.
Mrs. Boneta Phillips took the reins of office in 2003 thus becoming the first woman with a disability to head the Council. During her presidency, the Council continued to experience a period of rapid growth and change.
In 2003, the Council acquired a Government lease for its new home "Harambee House" located at the Garrison, St. Michael which was officially opened in 2006 after extensive renovations. It features a resource centre for the use of the affiliated organizations, meeting rooms, a reference library, a computer lab and an administration centre.
The Government increased the Council’s subvention in 2004 after our submission of a budget based on the acquisition of Harambee House and increased administrative costs.
In launching Wheelchair Tennis, the Council added yet another discipline to the sporting arena in Barbados. At the same time, the Council acquired another accessible vehicle donated through the British High Commission, thus increasing the fleet of accessible buses to two.
The Constitution of the Council was reviewed and adopted in June 2004 and took effect at the Annual General Meeting in June of 2005. In accordance with the new regulations, the Board of Directors comprises of five officers and six floor members. All posts are now be held for two years.
A cherished programme of the council was launched in November 2005 with the unveiling of the Fully Accessible Barbados (FAB) Awards. These awards seek to recognize those facilities, which have made a conscious effort to be accessible to persons with disabilities.
Among some of the more recent programmes of the Council are:
The Council’s affiliates have reached a total of nineteen organizations representing a wide cross section of interests and specialties.
The Barbados Council for the Disabled continues to share a vision with our membership and that is, integration and equality of opportunities for all persons with disabilities. The Board of Directors and staff are committed to these objectives and we welcome the support of all persons in the achievement of these goals.