Basseterre, St. Kitts, February 18, 2019 (SKNIS): The Skills Training Empowerment Programme (STEP) has made a positive difference in the lives of differently-abled persons allowing them to become increasingly independent while generating an income to become self-sufficient.
Director of STEP, Wendell Wattley, said the skills training and work programme currently supports the work of the St. Kitts and Nevis Association of Persons with Disabilities, which is based at the McKnight Community Centre. It provides support to trainers who work with the persons that attend classes at the centre. It also supports ADE’s Place – a day center that provides training for day-to-day skills for differently-abled adults in St. Kitts.
Clarice Cotton, a member of the Board of Directors at ADE’s Place, explained that the private institution conducts classes in art and craft, and agriculture. Life skill sessions also take place, as well as instruction in cooking, washing, ironing, singing and dancing. The private facility caters to graduates of the Cotton Thomas Comprehensive School.
Ms. Cotton said that two years ago, the STEP came onboard and provided financial support. That has translated into paying wages for three staff members at the institution which increased the numbers from two to five. Additionally, the STEP provides a stipend for the enrolees at ADE’s Place, which has allowed the registered participants to grow from seven to about 20 persons.
“They are able to pay their [attendance] fees, they are able to pay their bus fares and they are telling you ‘I’m working’ and so I think it [the STEP] has made quite a difference,” Ms. Cotton stated.
The increased sense of self confidence has also allowed some students of ADE’s Place to seek and gain part-time employment. Several are employed at the Craft House; one works at the Robert L. Bradshaw International Airport; while another is employed with a company in Basseterre.
Ms. Cotton stated that students are also able to sell their art and craft products at exhibitions and some do quite well through special orders made by clients throughout the year.
“It has made a difference in the trainees’ lives; it has enabled us to employ more persons, enabled us to take in more trainees and so we really appreciate the input from STEP,” Ms. Cotton said.