The Cerebral Palsy Association of Saint Lucia’s(CPA) primary objective is to support children and their families who are affected by Cerebral Palsy. TheAssociation recently had the pleasure of hosting its first “Respite Day” on Sunday, June 2nd 2013 at Spinners in Union. The aim of the day was to give parents some much needed time off,and enjoy the company of each other whilst having lunch and drinks at Sandals Halcyon. The President of the Association Daria Robinson-Ernest states, “We recognized that parents, especially those who care for “Special Needs Children” deserve some form of a break to relax and unwind. As a result, we felt that it was necessary to allow them to celebrate their parenthood during a period where Mothers and Fathers are celebrated the world over.”

Whilst the Parents enjoyed lunch, the children were engaged in an Arts and Crafts Program to encourage the use of their hands, which is important for learning basic skills like eating and dressing. The assistance of the group Believe in Volunteering, the Adventist Community Services, a Special Needs Activity coordinator, along with teachers and other volunteers made this program a success. Our play mats were also donated by Q Homes Ltd, which ensured that the children could play in a comfortable and protective area. The children got to explore with sensory bins and materials which would encourage creativity through stimulation.

Parents also got the opportunity to de-stress by having back massages done compliments Shawn’s Spa and make-overs compliments Lisa Weekes.One of the parents’ Peter Stanislaus expressed “I could not imagine spending my Sunday in a better way. This was truly a surprise.”

The Association continues to advocate for continuous therapy for the children, early intervention, and specialized programs in schools to further develop these individuals to be contributing members of Society.

The CPA also commends the Government for taking the initiative to introduce a monthly stipend of $ 200.00 to families with challenged children. We do, however, believe that a lot more can be done in areas like Education. Universal Early Childhood Education should be especially accessible to this group of children who depend on early stimulation. This would then alleviate an approximate output of $ 16, 800.00 to families who also have to purchase medication and other specialized equipment for their children.

We appreciate the first step by the Government in recognizing that we have a major issue with childhood disabilities and implore them to continue exploring ways to curb the numbers from increasing whilst making life accessible for those inexistence through health, education and social benefits.