Fianna Fáil Health Spokesperson Stephen Donnelly has backed a new initiative called a Jam Card, designed to help people with intellectual disabilities navigate daily life.
Deputy Donnelly explained, “Jam Cards are a really simple but brilliant idea. Standing for Just-A-Minute (JAM), they can be shown in shops and on public transport to signal that the holder needs to be treated with a little patience. They can be used by anyone with an intellectual disability and are especially useful for those with hidden disabilities such as autism or acquired brain injury.
“The idea is already operating in the North. The NOW disability group has the scheme up and running as a self-sustaining charity. They tell me that €100,000 would enable them to expand the cards into the Republic. They need to be made widely available and commonly accepted. That means that some investment is needed for creating and distributing the cards. Money also needs to be spent training staff how to deal with the wearers and educating the general public on what they are and why they’re needed.
“Here in County Wicklow we have some really valuable services for people with intellectual disabilities . Sunbeam House in Bray and Saol Anois in Festina Lente are just two prime examples. Arguably one of the best things they offer clients is the ability to live more independent lives. Part of that includes developing the skills to function in every day situations like getting buses or going into shops. The JAM Card is tailored to make those interactions just that little bit easier.
“ I believe that we should support anything that simplifies life for people with disabilities. That’s why I’m massively in favour of JAM Cards. Luckily I’ve managed to get the Health Committee in Leinster House, of which I’m a member, to show its backing for the idea too. The committee has agreed to write to the Ministers for Transport, Health and Justice calling for funding as soon as possible. Here’s hoping they also show similar compassion ”, concluded Donnelly