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Cerebral Palsy body wants $13m centre opened
Wheelchair-bound children suffering from cerebral palsy and their parents demonstrated in the rain yesterday, calling for the opening of the National Enrichment Centre at Carlsen Field, Chaguanas.
The centre was built just over two years ago at a cost of $13.5 million and is equipped with physiotherapy equipment and a pool to treat all people with disabilities but remains unopened.
Cerebral Palsy Society of T&T (CPSTT) president Philip Metivier said his association has been clamouring for the use of the centre for the past two years. However, he said whenever the CPSTT asks about the status of the centre they keep getting excuses from the Ministry of Social Development and a run-a-round from Minister of Social Development and Family Service Cherrie Ann Critchlow-Cockburn.
Metivier said he was supposed to meet with Critchlow-Cockburn in March but she called at the eleventh hour and cancelled the meeting.
“I wrote several letters to her requesting a meeting and I never got a response,” Metivier said.
He said to add insult to injury, several grants, such as the caretaker grant and food cards, were taken away from parents who depended on these state handouts to take care of their children.
Visually impaired parent Angela Swamber, who has been blind for the last 27 years, cried and as she told the media of her plight.
Swamber said there is no help locally for children with CP and the centre offered a ray of hope when it came to therapy. Swamber shed even more tears when she said her son had often asked her why was he born to suffer this way.
Parent Rohini Mootilal complained that they are experiencing problems to get the special Eldamo buses from PTSC to take their children for medical care. They said the drivers also inconvenience the children since they also stop to pick up PTSC workers and delay the process to the health services.
Dr Glenn Ramadharsingh, the former Minister of the People and Social Development under the People’s Partnership administration, said the Government should stop playing politics with children suffering from CP.
Ramadharsingh said: “They are not the average citizen, they are not even the average differently-abled person that is physically impaired. You have a condition in CP where you have a physical difficulty and in some cases, you have a mental challenge as well.”
Ramadharsingh said some children with CP have different nutritional requirements and may have to be fed intravenously or may die.
“They need the food grant, they need this facility for therapy, they can raise funds to bring in specialists. There is a pool for physiotherapy, there is no excuse, even if times are hard a new brand facility should be put to use and not remain unused.
“This is a colossal shame that this facility is not being used and today they have to shelter in a tent while a facility that was built for more than $13 million and being underutilised …do not let political victimisation affect these children, use it constructively for the benefit of the children.”
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