The Kiwanis Pride of Barbados Club offers fun for kids of all abilities.

By Julie Saetre

On a recent Saturday afternoon, almost 50 children gathered in the parking lot of Kensington Mall under a sunny Barbados sky for a fun-filled afternoon of games and activities. As with any large gathering of kids, laughter filled the air and a lively atmosphere prevailed.

But this wasn’t just any play group. This was an event designed to promote inclusive play.

Everyone is A.B.L.E was sponsored by the Kiwanis Pride of Barbados Club, which partnered with Massy Properties, Champion Pediatric Physical Therapy, and IncludeU Sports Academy. The A.B.L.E. acronym encourages participants to accept persons despite their differences, believe we are all equal, learn to include, and embrace.

“We wanted to promote inclusion through understanding and, in so doing, develop children who become adults capable of promoting, encouraging and fostering inclusion for all Barbadians,” says Nicola Yard, a former club president and current club board member. “We hope to eliminate the stigma associated with disabilities as we move toward a fully inclusive Barbados.”

Reaching more kids
Each child in attendance partnered with another child to form 24 pairs. Each pair consisted of one child with disabilities and one child without. For the next three hours, the children enjoyed races, face painting and other age-appropriate activities.

Volunteers from the four partnering organizations, Kiwanis Barbados Benevolence and the Barbados Senior Men’s football team led the young participants through the various play opportunities and monitored their safety.

“We hope that each child will share the experience with friends,” Yard says, “so that we can reach more children and change more lives.”

The A.B.L.E. event is one part of a larger Pride of Barbados club effort to promote inclusion. The club has started redistributing its inclusive-play coloring books in Barbados schools and plans to expand that effort to include other countries. Future initiatives include distributing videos that discourage parking in spaces reserved for people with disabilities and highlighting the right terminology when speaking to or about people with disabilities.

“In addition, we will be purchasing wheelchairs and building ramps for individuals who need assistance with these items,” Yard says. “We want to positively impact lives giving service in a meaningful way, and we believe that we can achieve this through inclusion — one child and one community at a time.”