Tuesday, June 18, 2013

CAMP JAKE: An open invitation

Shawn, Camp Jake counselor, making memories
with Frénel, a blind camper (July 2012)
This July, The Red Thread Promise is swinging wide the doors of Camp Jake to share the work we are doing for people with disabilities (PWDs) in Haiti. We have invited representatives from governmental and non-governmental organizations—local, national and international—as well as Haitian business owners to experience camp along side The Red Thread team.

Some of our esteemed guests for this summer's session include our partners from Physicians For Peace, as well as representatives from UnicefMINUSTAH (United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti), and the OAS (Organization of American States). All have been invited to take part in our efforts to change both local and global attitudes toward PWDs and take steps to integrate PWDs into Haitian society without discrimination.

Ultimately, The Red Thread's goal is to bring communities together, where everyone is viewed with dignity. During our activities around the world, we model respectful and inclusive behavior toward PWDs. We bring medical teams to meet their physical needs and provide tools to enrich their daily lives. We have been actively discussing discrimination issues in Haiti since 2009, encouraging the implementation of anti-discrimination strategies. Fortunately, on March 13, 2012, the Haitian Senate passed the Law on the Integration of Disabled Persons, the first of its kind in the country. This law provides us the legal support necessary to enact fundamental change in this tiny Caribbean country.  
Art therapist, Kelly, showing love to blind campers (July 2012)
But above all, we build relationships, showing love and care to those often cast out by their own society. Camp Jake provides the perfect opportunity to do so, a full week of one-on-one interaction with 40 PWDs from St. Vincent's Center for Handicapped Children. Campers enjoy physical, occupational, art and music therapy in a safe atmosphere where each is encouraged to be themselves in an open and inclusive environment.
Sonya, TRTP Vice President, sharing laughs and hugs with Kenson
By its very existence, Camp Jake has proven to be a powerful tool in changing Haitian attitudes toward PWDs. We have witnessed locals, tourists and even hotel staff change their attitude and reception of PWDs within hours of witnessing campers interact with one another and our team. This type of positive experience is essential to debunking the local myths about people with disabilities. 

We believe the keys to societal reform are achievable by:
  • Giving Haitians the opportunity to witness positive inclusive behavior
  • Encouraging Haitians to directly engage with PWDs
  • Speaking openly about the issues PWDs face 
Camp Jake is a wonderful venue to showcase PWDs' ability to integrate fully in society without discrimination. We invite you to keep visiting our Facebook page and blog for updates leading up to Camp Jake 2013 and throughout the amazing camp experience.

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