Mario Carey, REACH’s (Resources & Education for Autism and Related Challenges) President, attended the three day “Autism – Promoting Inclusion, Advocacy and Early Detection” conference last week. Chargé d’Affaires, John Dinkelman, personally invited Mr. Carey to attend all sessions, speak with him and Special Education Specialist, Dr.Karr, on Star 106.5FM and Guardian 96.9 FM, and take part in the “Inclusion, Advocacy and Human Rights Session” with the Dr. Karr.
The United States’ initiative to host the conference was in response to the Prime Minister’s desire to provide a forum that addresses Autism in The Bahamas. Mario Carey was a main contender throughout the conference. He is a driving force when it comes to Autism awareness, funding, and providing disabled children with a future. Please see his personal thoughts below.
We envision a society in which all autistic people are treated with respect, dignity, and have equal opportunities to develop as human beings, and to develop to the best of their ability. We need and desire the Bahamian society to partner in this vision.
The mission of REACH is to advocate, provide support, and educate those who are challenged by autism spectrum disorders and related challenges
We do this by:
-Providing free educational workshops to all parents, teachers and caregivers.
-Public awareness – April is observed nationally as Autism Awareness Month.
-Support/Resources – Group meetings are held bi-monthly at our Resource Center.
-Annual REACH summer camp – Held in July for the past 14 years.
-Community activities – We hold an annual march, televised church services, and public speeches at civic organizations and corporations.
-Classroom initiatives – We create state of the art classrooms using proven equipment and designs
-We are adding sub chapters of REACH to the family islands and currently have a chapter in Grand Bahama.
-Advocate – members of REACH are also on the committee for the Bahamas Constitutional Review for the Disabled.
-Members of REACH are also on the committee to pass the Disabilities Act
-Butterfly project – currently working with the Bahamin Government to develop a state of the art multi-phase community base day habilitation Center that will encompass curricula involving many organizations and society as a hole.
-Fundraising – A constant production
What REACH wants to happen in The Bahamas:
-Inclusion – We value the need for society to accept and embrace the fast growing population of autistic persons.
-Law – We value the need for the Bahamian Government to pass legislation protecting the rights, liberty, and dignity of autistic persons.
-Partners – We value the need for civil society to work together with REACH to bring about our mission statement.
-Education – We value the need for all the educational needs to be met including classrooms, teachers, aid, and scholarships for students studying special education.
-Funding – We value the Government’s ability to assist in funding the various education, facility, and medical needs programs deemed appropriate.
-Insurance – We value the need for all aspects of the insurance industry to adequately address this special need population and provide fair and affordable coverage of medication, treatment, and life insurance.
-Proper identification – we value the need for autistic persons to be handled in a fast tract fashion when dealing with visits to medical facilities, traveling, and other related type activities.
-You are the answer.
-Let’s make it happen as a society.