This article has been published in Enabling Education 8
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Title: Networking in the Caribbean
Author: Themen-Sliggers, M
Publisher: EENET
Date: 2004

Networking in the Caribbean

Marja Themen-Sliggers

CAMRODD – the Caribbean Association for Mobilizing Resources and Opportunities for People with Developmental Disabilities – was launched in Jamaica in 1970 with parent groups from eight Caribbean islands. Its name was then the Caribbean Association for Mental Retardation, and it worked for, and on behalf of, people with developmental disabilities. The Secretariat and President’s Office were run on a voluntary basis and moved every two years to a different country.

In its first 20 years CAMRODD organised conferences every two years on themes related to gaps in service provision. Its focus was on strengthening and educating parents, and on stimulating the formation of parent groups. The parent groups influenced the development of new services and training. The services included: early detection and stimulation, vocational training, integrated childcare, special education, counselling programmes, parent-to-parent support, and speech therapy. The training included portage, job counselling and placement, organisational development, public and parent awareness, advocacy and parent training (including fathers and self-advocacy).

In the late 1980s CAMRODD shifted its focus to rights, based on the UN Declaration of Human Rights and the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. Instead of fighting for services and better treatment, CAMRODD began to fight for rights and inclusion. Slowly the focus was moved from parents working in isolation to collaboration between families and professionals and governments. Leadership training was developed and delivered in a wide range of member countries, and was called SCcOPE. The course was designed to train parents, family members, teachers, nurses and other professionals so that Services and Communities create Opportunities for People with disabilities through Equality.

CAMRODD’s Blueprint for Action was first published in 1992 as one of the goals of the leadership project. It was formulated by representatives of 17 member associations and it focuses on five main areas: education; home; parent and public education; services; and employment. The leadership training was sponsored by the Canadian International Development Agency, and the Canadian Association for Community Living, and was conducted by the then Director of the Roeher Institute, Marcia Rioux.

The goals of this training programme are to:

  • explore a common vision of human rights based on equality
  • link this vision to the UN declarations and countries’ obligations as signatories
  • examine social policy development and its role in social change so that new approaches will be put into practice.

During the SCcOPE course, which is delivered by CAMRODD in countries all over the Caribbean, participants design and implement a community development project.

Contact Marja Themen-Sliggers, President of CAMRODD, at:
Verl Gemenelandsweg 18d
South America.
Fax: +597 424602

CAMRODD’s member countries include: Antigua, Aruba, Bahamas. Barbados, Belize, Bonaire, Cayman, Curacao, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Grenada, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, Montserrat, Puerto Rico, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago, Turks and Ciaos, Venezuela.