News Releases

Lots of Socks” at UWI in support of World Down Syndrome Day and upcoming Disabilities Conference

For Release Upon Receipt - March 20, 2015

St. Augustine

ST. AUGUSTINE, Trinidad and Tobago – Tomorrow, March 21, is World Down Syndrome Day. As part of the recognition, Down Syndrome International invites persons the world over to wear Lots of Socks to raise awareness of the genetic disorder. Staff and students at The University of the West Indies (UWI) St. Augustine came out today, March 20, in coloured socks to help raise awareness on the heels of Towards Social Integration: Rights, Roles, Recognition of Persons with Disabilities, a conference to be hosted by The UWI Network and Outreach for Disability Education and Sensitization (NODES) and the Disability Studies Unit (DSU) UWI St Augustine on April 23 and 24.

The two-day conference seeks to address and provide information to assist persons with disabilities. The conference is for and about people with intellectual disabilities, physical disabilities and mental disorders. Ms. Eileen Dunne, a self-advocate with Down Syndrome, is one of the Keynote Speakers. Dunne has attended mainstream primary, secondary and tertiary education in Ireland. She has won innumerable awards and holds two gold medals from Special Olympics Ireland. She was recently elected to the Down Syndrome Ireland National Advisory Board.

Other Keynote Speakers include:

·         Professor Elizabeth Harry is the founder of Immortelle Children's Centre. She is Professor of Special Education and Chair of the Department of Teaching and Learning at the University of Miami.  She has published her memoir, Bird with a Broken Wing. A Mother’s Story.

·         Professor Gerard Hutchinson is Professor of Psychiatry and head of the Department, Clinical Medical Sciences, School of Medicine, Faculty of Medical Sciences, Eric Williams Medical Sciences Centre, The UWI.

Three roundtable discussions are also on the programme:

·         Mental Disorders: Ms. Jacqueline Huggins, coordinator of the Academic Support Disabilities Liaison Unit, chairs this panel and participants include Counsellor, Dr. Sarah Chin Yuen Kee and Dr. Shirin Haque, lecturer and activist.  

·         Integration and participation: Participants include Mr. Glen Niles, founder of the Down Syndrome Family Network, Dr. Beverly Beckles, CEO of the National Centre for Persons with Disabilities, and Ms. Joanna Owen, parent of a teenager with Down Syndrome and Mrs. Teresina Sieunarine, founder of the Autistic Society.

·         Ministering to the Disabled: Panellists include the Mother General of the Dominican Order, Sr. Therese Antoine OP, Mr. Mikkel Trestrail, Sr. Christina Araujo OP, a representative from the Lady Hochoy Home, as well as a member of the Bahai Faith, and a representative from the Hindu and Moslem communities.

In addition to five workshops and multiple presentations by persons with different abilities, the conference organisers will screen a documentary, “Dis Abled Mis Labeled.” This specially researched film gives insight into the capabilities as well as the challenges faced by persons with disabilities in Trinidad and Tobago.

An initiative by UWI’s Disabilities Unit in 2014 led to the creation of NODES. Dr. Jean Antoine-Dunne invited a number of university lecturers and other persons, who have all been working in the field of disability, to come together to form a network that would use The UWI as a platform for facilitating the sensitization of the public to the needs and potential of those with disabilities. NODES aims to support education and consciousness raising in relation to persons with disabilities. Disability refers to impairments, activity limitations and participation restrictions (WHO). In so doing, it would sensitize the national community to challenges faced by persons with disabilities and facilitate self-representation on the part of persons with disabilities. 

Registration begins at 8.00 a.m. on April 23 at the Learning Resource Centre, on the St. Augustine Campus. Schools, the university population, all organizations dealing with disabilities, all persons with a disability, the general public, as well as representatives from the various religious groups are all invited to attend. Interested persons can contact Dr. Jean Antoine-Dunne for further information at and can see the full conference programme at



About The UWI

Since its inception in 1948, The University of the West Indies (UWI) has evolved from a fledgling college in Jamaica with 33 students to a full-fledged, regional University with well over 40,000 students. Today, UWI is the largest, most longstanding higher education provider in the Commonwealth Caribbean, with four campuses in Barbados, Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, and the Open Campus. The UWI has faculty and students from more than 40 countries and collaborative links with 160 universities globally; it offers undergraduate and postgraduate degree options in Food & Agriculture, Engineering, Humanities & Education, Law, Medical Sciences, Science and Technology and Social Sciences. UWI’s seven priority focal areas are linked closely to the priorities identified by CARICOM and take into account such over-arching areas of concern to the region as environmental issues, health and wellness, gender equity and the critical importance of innovation. Website:


(Please note that the proper name of the university is The University of the West Indies, inclusive of the “The”, hence The UWI.)