Circle of Friends Participates in Groundbreaking Side Event “Enabling Inclusion: Addressing Disability Challenges” at SIDS4 Conference in Antigua and Barbuda

The content originally appeared on: Antigua News Room

Circle of Friends, a non-profit agency dedicated to addressing the needs of persons with disabilities, particularly youth, and children, proudly announces its participation in the side event “Enabling Inclusion: Addressing Disability Challenges” at the 4th International Conference on Small Island Developing States (SIDS) in Antigua and Barbuda.

The side event, held on May 30, 2024, brought together organizations representing persons with disabilities and special needs worldwide, to discuss the importance of investing in human capital in SIDS, by addressing disability and special needs issues and harnessing the potential of people with disabilities.

Beverly LeBlanc, Executive Director of Circle of Friends Inc., expressed the significance of this milestone, stating, “This is really a momentous occasion for us, particularly after having worked for 14 years together in our different meetings, weekly meetings. And then we had the declaration of St. John’s, which was approved because it was developed in 2023. And then now we are here. So this is a milestone for us as an organization of persons with disabilities, showing that if we work together, we can achieve much.”

The side event emphasized the importance of inclusion in the sustainable development of people with disabilities. Bernard Warner, President of The Antigua and Barbuda Association for Persons Living with Disabilities (ABAPD), highlighted the collective effort of regional organizations, saying, “We also want to say that inclusion in the sustainable development of people with disabilities is very important. And we want to send a message that we are not alone.

The ABAPD is a force that is a part of a regional network and we are collectively expressing and sharing the skills and knowledge that we have collectively within states. We want to let the public know that when you support a local organization like the ABAPD we are supporting a regional effort for both integration and both development for small island developing states.”

Kerwin Thomas, President of the Disabled People International Trinidad and Tobago Chapter, expressed optimism about the impact of the conference, stating, “This conference and even this inter mingling with the different regions will definitely add some value in terms of how we move things forward for the region.”

Joshuanette Francis, President of Good Humans 268, emphasized the need for action beyond the conference, saying, “We have to design programs, projects, partnerships, and policies to achieve sustainable development goals, to ensure SIDS 4, it’s not just a talk shop, but we can leave here knowing that change is going to happen.”

The side event “Enabling Inclusion: Addressing Disability Challenges” marks a significant step forward in the global effort to address the needs of persons with disabilities and special needs in Small Island Developing States. Circle of Friends and its partner organizations remain committed to advocating for inclusive sustainable development and ensuring that the voices of persons with disabilities are heard on the international stage.

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