Education and training is crucial to the development of all individuals. For many persons who are blind or visually impaired, however, education and training are the only means by which they can achieve some level of autonomy and upward mobility. The JSB takes its mandate to promote the education and training of persons who are blind or visually impaired seriously.
The JSB recognize that its involvement in this area has been limited over the years and as such is determined that one possible solution is the creation of a scholarship and training fund. Additionally, the JSB is aware of the economic and social challenges faced by many students who are blind or visually impaired. Tuition fees, vocational training costs and general expenses are among the economic constraints identified by individuals pursuing further education and training.
The idea of a scholarship and grants programme was born out of the organization’s desire to play a more meaningful role in helping its members to overcome these financial challenges. Having decided on the creation of this scholarship and grants programme, the JSB undertook the daunting task of sourcing well needed funds for supporting this worthwhile venture.
In the past we have received funds from the Digicel Foundation 5K race which was used as seed money for starting the scholarship fund.
The JSB is mindful that the continuity of the programme will depend on our ability to source funding. In this regard, a scholarship and grants committee was established in March 2014 to provide management of the process from the garnering of funds to the distribution of scholarships and grants.
This scholarship is in memory of the untimely passing of Mr. Marlon King. Marlon was a Jamaican who acquired a physical disability due to a gunshot wound as a child. While he had no responsibility for this occurrence while at home, it was to have lifelong impacts. He experienced difficulties attributed to society’s voluntary and involuntary barriers imposed on persons with disabilities (PWDs). He often articulated that educational, employment and accessibility/environmental discrimination proved most debilitating for PWDs. Three specific experiences of discrimination illustrates his points.
First, he was unable to attend Calabar High School after successfully passing his Common Entrance Examination due to lack of access to common spaces shared by other students such as bathroom, cafeteria, lab and some classrooms. Nonetheless he excelled at the Mona High School.
Second, he faced difficulty accessing capital to create a sustainable jewelry-making business called Coco Wear. The business was featured on a Jamaican television show called, The Innovators, Season 2, Episode 9 (https://youtu.be/gbX75DXj9Hk). His products were identified as high quality by the judges. With technical business support received through the show, Marlon was on his way to formalizing a sustainable green business (transforming waste coconut shells to jewellery).
Third, mobility discrimination constantly impacted all facets of his life. The lack of accessible sidewalk infrastructure to accommodate safe use of his wheelchair resulted in his untimely death when hit by a Jamaica Urban Transit Corporation bus in January 2015.
On the day of his death, he was on his way home from buying raw materials for his home-based small business which provided part-time employment for other PWDs.
The proposed scholarship memorializes Marlon’s quest for independence despite facing discrimination. It also underscores the tragedy of inaccessible environments for PWDs and carries on Marlon’s vision for breaking down discriminatory barriers in education and all walks of life.
This scholarship was established by Dr. Annicia Gayle-Geddes in 2017 in memory of the life and work of Marlon King.
Please take a look at this video of "The Innovators" featuring Marlon King.
Jamaica Society For The Blind
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