Sailability Director concerned about marginalisation of persons with disabilities

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Director of Sailability Antigua, Bob Bailey (File photo)
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By Latrishka Thomas

[email protected]

Persons with disabilities remain one of the most excluded and marginalised groups in societies all over the world, and Director of Sailability Antigua, Bob Bailey, says that this is also the unfortunate reality for Antigua and Barbuda.

Despite the fact that the disabled community is recognised more now than in the past, Bailey believes that “people with disabilities need to be put on a higher ranking of need within the community” when it comes to the allocation of resources, awareness, education, employment, rights and privileges and the creation of state policies.

He propounded that in a split second anyone can become disabled and, “say you wake up in the morning and you’re at home with your family, if you have one, and they are all busy rushing around because they are going off to work to earn some money…so that leaves you at home on the deck watching the view, or you’re sitting on the verandah because your wheelchair can get there, but that’s not one day, that’s your every future,” he explained.

Bailey added that limited wheelchair access around the country leaves the group “locked away.”

“There’s nothing to do other than be at home,” he opined.

He also suggested that the Covid-19 crisis has revealed the extent of exclusion that these marginalised members of society experience, specifically where recreation is concerned.

“There’s no recreational activity. Our life, your life depends on recreation…and there’s nothing you can do if you’re disabled,” he remarked.

Bailey said that his Sailability programme, which offers the differently-abled community of Antigua the opportunity to sail to the best of their abilities, is one of the only activities available for that community.

And still “some aren’t doing it because nobody bothered to take them for a jab.”

He also underscored the need for a list of the disabled in the twin-island to be compiled to that they can be reached

The Sailability Programme is delivered by the National Sailing Academy instructors under the directorship of Bailey who founded the programme in Antigua and Barbuda about nine years ago.

Participants can either take lessons or enjoy a ride on a sail boat, or in some cases, learn to race, depending on the nature of their challenges.

Individuals wishing to enroll in the programme, or have someone enrolled, can do so by calling Bailey at 783-8553 or via the National Sailing Academy.

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