An able-bodied person’s eye-opening Experience

 Holly stood with her hands by her side and is smiling, she is wearing a black top and multicoloured trousers. A cornfield and a cluster of trees can be seen in the background

“I can just imagine how much people with disabilities can achieve with support and awareness.” ~Joyana Riviere

My experience attending the Youth with Disabilities Caribbean sessions was indeed an eye opener!

This event is held every Sunday via Zoom from 2:00pm to 4:00 pm AST.  Attendees consist of youths with disabilities through out the Caribbean, advocates, families and friends. Youths with various disabilities host these sessions and often invite industry professionals to share their expertise with the group, be it on mental health, healthy eating or other important topics. 

What I thought would have been just attending a few sessions to complete an assignment 

for one of my courses, turned into disability awareness and a profound learning experience to which I returned Sunday after Sunday.  

I came to the realization that we as able-bodied people cannot speak to or understand things we have no clue about, or have experienced from the perspective of a person with a disability. I was always aware of the little-to-no representation, accommodation and awareness people with disabilities endure in the Caribbean as compared to the United States and other regions, but I admire their strength and endurance, and they have earned my respect and admiration! 

My attendance at these sessions allowed me to see how unique, gifted and talented people with disabilities are. 

We have always been told “The Sky’s the limit” and with the right support and awareness, indeed, the Sky is the limit for people with disabilities. I learned this from my attendance at these Sunday sessions. 

It was amazing to see youths with disabilities make presentations and speak confidently to the Zoom audience, engaging in the discussions, playing trivia games and being very interactive. I can just imagine how much more they can achieve with support and community awareness.

There is so much more society can do to create awareness and advocate for people with disabilities. 

As a society, our first step should be to speak up with them and not discriminate. I have decided to join the fight in creating awareness and advocating for people with disabilities. 

My hope is to see inclusion acts for people with disabilities in the workforce and education. Everyone deserves an equal opportunity in life and their disabilities definitely do not define them. 

I was in awe when an individual with a visual impairment created a presentation on his home island and gave a presentation on disability myths. 

We need to make room for people with disabilities in the world. They deserve every opportunity that comes their way. I believe there is so much they can offer and teach us. 

Let’s fight for inclusion, accommodation, and equality for people with disabilities. Let’s all stand unified to fight for a worthy cause.

This experience was shared by Joyana Riviere on the Caribbean island of Dominica

Joyana is a Biology Lecturer at the Dominica State College. She is a proud graduate of Grambling State University, where she obtained her Bachelors of Science Degree in Biology and Dominica State College, where she obtained her Associate Degree in Biology and Physics. She was an active member in various clubs and societies such as The Dominica State College Literary and Debate Society, The Biology Pre-Doctoral Society and International Student Organization. She was a recipient of various President’s honours awards. She’s enthusiastic about educating the future leaders in Science and Stem. She lives in the nature isle of the Caribbean, Dominica. She enjoys nature and keeping up with the latest breakthroughs in scientific research.

She is now an advocate for people with disabilities.