The National Awards Committee

Why para-athletics double-gold winner Akeem Stewart was rewarded with the Humming Bird Medal Gold, while the members of the Trinidad and Tobago relay team were awarded a higher honour – the Chaconia Medal Gold? Was this question meant to bring attention to a cause or to put one category of people against another or to ignite […]

Why para-athletics double-gold winner Akeem Stewart was rewarded with the Humming Bird Medal Gold, while the members of the Trinidad and Tobago relay team were awarded a higher honour – the Chaconia Medal Gold?

Was this question meant to bring attention to a cause or to put one category of people against another or to ignite a long needed conversational awareness of the subject of disability?

Glen Niles, president and founder of the Down Syndrome Family Network stated that:

“All six men won gold medals for Trinidad and Tobago in athletics this year,”

Whereas this is a well-established fact. It is also true!

Glen Niles introduces the  argument  by saying that:

“Akeem Stewart had the added distinctions of winning gold twice and setting a new world record in the shot put.” This is a fact .It is also  a remarkable performance and achievement on both sides of the national endeavor. With the premise “For love of country” and not self-promotion or self-pity, was create by a situation beyond the control of the protagonists.

Are there national awards categories?


“There are five (5) categories of national awards. In order of rank they are :

  1. The Order of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago,
  2.  The Chaconia Medal of the Order of the Trinity,
  3. The Humming Bird Medal of the Order of the Trinity,
  4. The Public Service Medal of Merit of the Order of the Trinity and
  5. The Medal for the Development of Women of the Order of the Trinity.

The recipients of the 2017 national sports awards have excelled and have brought honor to Trinidad and Tobago.

The explosive behavioral tone of Mr. Glen Niles argument in conversation shows that:

The issue here is whether Glen Niles accepts the concept of categories.

He is bound to accept .

His foundation acts on the principle of categories. Therefore, his condition of self-denial must strive in another environment.

Let’s examine the mission of the Down Syndrome Family Network.

Do the The Down Syndrome Family Network adopt categories for membership?


“We welcome both individuals and organizations who represent people with Down syndrome.”



Welcome to the Members section of the Down Syndrome International website!

Our members include people with Down syndrome, parents, family members and friends, “carers”, professionals, practitioners, researchers, organizations and people who are just interested in Down syndrome from all over the world.

We welcome new members at any time and we have 2 categories of membership:

  1. Representative Membership
  2. Affiliate Membership

If you would like to become a member, please first visit Our Structure page to determine

  1. What type of membership you qualify for
  2. And then visit our Join DSi page
  3. To check out the reasons why you should join us
  4. And to submit an online membership form.

Check:Able privilege  ,Re-Conceptualizing Disability by Alan Larson At TEDxSFA

The record which Stewart broke had been on the books for 20 years, he said.

But , Lalonde Gordon, Jarrin Solomon, Jereem Richards, Machel Cedenio and Renny Quow, of the Trinidad and Tobago 4x400m relay team were presented with the Chaconia Medal Gold by president Anthony Carmona on Sunday Were awarded the higher rank medal.

Nevertheless, Akeem was awarded the lower rank Humming Bird Medal in Gold.

Where is the argument?

Niles noted that the only difference between the members of the relay team and Stewart was that he was disabled.This statement signals  a misunderstanding of the  Disabilitiy challenge

Mr. Glen Niles must be forgiven for thinking ableism is a term describing the empowerment of people with disabilities as equals, to make able, or the giving of ability. It is not.

How does the National Awards Committee account for this difference when the only distinguishing feature between Akeem and the other athletes is that he competed as a par athlete?

There are Interenational standing categories for awards in the OlympicGames,The World Games,The Commonwealth Games,The Pan American Games and other.The following question came up,but is it relevant?Does it pertain to the people,time or event in contention?

Is this not ableism?

(Discrimination in favour of able-bodied people).”

The question requires documentary evidence supporting the  issue sought or burden of persuasion.

Ableism means to be normal. Establishing the able body as “normal” in society gives avenue to prejudice social attitudes and discriminatory behaviors toward the disabled body, designated to the category “abnormal.” By forming a group deemed normal, anyone not included in that group must be not-normal. An accurate definition of ableism relies on the ability to recognize normal ability and the rights and benefits afforded to persons deemed normal.


Glen Niles said the National Awards Committee had a “wonderful opportunity” to lead by example in changing the way in which persons with disabilities are viewed culturally in Trinidad and Tobago. This is a hostile emotional approach to engage public sympathy.

This is the responsibility of the Down Syndrome Family Network not the NAC.

“It missed the mark terribly by ascribing an inferior value to Akeem’s accomplishments for Trinidad and Tobago.

We can and must do better as a nation to transform the ways in which

we assign lower worth to people who have developmental, emotional, physical or psychiatric disabilities,” If Glen Niles means generally please note Halberg,Phelps ,Giles,Crawford,Crews,etc.

Do not blame the Nation for your perception of what :

  1. is fair or unfair .
  2. the issue here is  A medal ,
  3. one of value clarification,
  4. is a misunderstanding of an ideas worth pursuing .
  5. The disabilities committee has missed out on a “teachable moment”


Stewart is the proud holder of three world records in the javelin, discus and shot put. And while these marks were established in para-athletics competition

MisterAfrikaans4 years ago states that:

“There is privilege, but there are so many, many variables that create privilege. It creates over simplistic lines and tends to make certain variables more important than others, based on the loudness of the activist. “

The real goals of the President are obfuscated.

Is it:

  1. A defense for Down Syndrome,
  2. Photo opt,
  3. A cry for sympathy for something you cannot control.
  4. A sense of guilt when not guilty.

Surprisingly, your efforts to promote an awareness of a disability only serves to obfuscate an already confusing conversation.

The last thing I want to do is to further complicate the concept by trying to explain it .

Encouraging empathy is laudable, and I think the Down Syndrome President made his position very visible and emotional; however, this realization of one’s own privilege is applicable to every aspect of human difference.

Too often we find people who believe that someone else has a privilege they lack and covet.

Rather than allow empathy to flow naturally from the other person, resentment sets in, and this whole “check your privilege” meme becomes a method of shaming and silencing rather than a doorway to meaningful interaction.


Dr.Cliff Bertrand

Former Supervisor of Physical Education ,Health & Recreation with NYC Board of Education


The views expressed are those of the writer and not those of

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