New Miss Jamaica to advocate for people with disabilities

Americas, August 13 2013

Newly crowned National Festival Queen, Krystal Tomlinson, says she is targeting heightening the awareness and changing the attitude of students toward persons with disabilities, specifically their peers, as one of her parish projects.

The project for students with disabilities is slated to be launched on August 29 at a selected school in Manchester.

Miss Jamaica Festival Queen 2013, Krystal Tomlinson (centre), flanked by first runner-up Miss St Mary, Nordia Marie Antwine (left), and Evonie Blake, Miss St Elizabeth, at the crowining at the Ranny Williams Entertainment Centre.  Photo: Marcia Rowe/The Gleaner

Miss Jamaica Festival Queen 2013, Krystal Tomlinson (centre), flanked by first runner-up Miss St Mary, Nordia Marie Antwine (left), and Evonie Blake, Miss St Elizabeth, at the crowining at the Ranny Williams Entertainment Centre. Photo: Marcia Rowe/The Gleaner

“I want to start inside our schools because a lot of young people see persons with disabilities (experience significant) discrimination; that… further (marginalizes) them by excluding them from social activities,” Ms. Tomlinson told.

She described the language toward persons with disabilities as ‘disempowering’ and underscored the need to develop a culture of tolerance, particularly among youngsters in schools, towards students and other persons who are disabled.

“I hope to create a space that builds tolerance among young people in schools, especially primary schools, to better treat their counterparts with disabilities,” the 2013 Festival Queen said.

She disclosed that the project’s execution will include a conference, training workshop, and competition.

Ms. Tomlinson explained that the conference aims to address and alter the culture which dictates the manner in which students treat persons with disabilities.

“It will put able-bodied students in the shoes of  students with disabilities. Student without disability (will be placed) in a wheel chair (and) will experience how it feels not to have a ramp to access the bathroom or a cubicle big enough to accommodate the wheel chair…things that affect the dignity of somebody with a disability,” she outlined.

Ms. Tomlinson advised that the training workshop aims to encourage young persons to engage in and utilize debates as a tool for conflict resolution, consensus building, and engendering tolerance. She said the competition, details of which are being developed, is slated for September, adding that “once the project is successful in Manchester, I can replicate it across the island.”

Source: JIS

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