`Nous n`héritons pas de la terre de nos ancêtres, nous l`empruntons à nos enfants` Antoine de St-Exupéry

Empowering intellectually disabled workers in sustainable agriculture

The overall objective of the project is to empower intellectually disabled young adults through skills acquisitions in sustainable agriculture and promote their professional and social integration.

Rehabilitation of men and women with moderate to severe intellectual disability is a major

objective of this project with a view to their economic and social integration through

sustainable agriculture.

We want to provide 50 young intellectually impaired adults with a work environment conductive to their training in eco-friendly agriculture techniques. APEIM has currently two sites at Trianon and Bonne Mère respectively where the rehabilitation program will be implemented. Training will emphasise on work skills and work habits in activities such as soil preparation, planting, crop treatment, use and preparation of compost, handling and storing crops, packaging for marketing and other related activities. Crops produced such as aromatic herbs and vegetables will respect the biodiversity of the island and help the struggle against food crisis. AREU has already proposed a list of local breeds of crops and fruit trees. These are mostly hardy crops that do

not necessitate pesticides, chemicals…(see page 20) Furthermore, it is a well known fact that safe agricultural activities are good occupation for intellectually disabled adults as these activities are suited to their capacities, help them to improve various skills and is protective to their health.

Besides specialised schools for children, APEIM caters also for young women and men with moderate to severe intellectual deficiency. These people have specific difficulties such as:-

• Reduced capacity for independent living and self care

• Difficulties for learning skills and self direction acquisition.

• Limited skills in receptive and expressive language

Without proper training, these difficulties will worsen and the young disabled adult will develop secondary impairments and increase the burden on his family and society at large.

However, with appropriate care and training, these disabled adults can master professional and social skills which will help them to integrate the society. They can also get and hold a job in normal setting and work along with co-workers who are not disabled and earn a salary. Those of them, who because of severe handicap cannot be placed in a normal setting, can be trained to work in a sheltered setting thus being productive.

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Training in safe agriculture for intellectually disabled adults has to be carried out in a specialised environment in order to be successful. It is also a fact skills training for intellectually disabled adults can best be conducted in a real work situation. This is why we will have to create a real work environment in safe agriculture on APEIM’s premises where we shall have real high expectations from trainees regarding quality and quantity of work produced and where we shall also have real high expectation regarding work attitudes.

APEIM has already acquired experience in agriculture out of its premises in Phoenix and

Bonne-Mère where strawberries, flowers and vegetables are already produced.

In the two coming years, APEIM aims to provide training for 50 young intellectually disabled women and men in safe agriculture. The expected results are:-

• Access to quality training in safe agriculture for intellectually disabled adults.

• Employment for trained intellectually disabled men and women on competitive labour market in the agricultural sector is being promoted and realised.

• Access to work in safe agriculture in a sheltered setting is available for those who are severely impaired.