Three years after the shooting death of Solomon Webster, the Cayman Islands government honored the Special Olympics athlete and his family with an official copy of the landmark disability rights legislation bearing his name.
Mr. Webster, who would have turned 28 this month, represented both the potential and the limitations of disabled people in the Cayman Islands. The star athlete and former Lighthouse School student overcame countless hurdles, but due to bureaucratic barriers, struggled to lead an independent life and rent his own apartment.
The 2016 Disabilities (Solomon Webster) Law named in his honor aims to safeguard the rights of individuals like Mr. Webster by ensuring access to healthcare, education, employment and independent living.
“I’m proud that we are the first overseas territory to have legislation dealing directly with disability issues. This will ensure that disability matters are championed and also provide a voluntary register which will enable us to better monitor the needs of the disabled moving forward,” Prospect MLA Austin Harris said Tuesday.
“To have the law named after Solomon Webster, I think, is a testament to the person that Solomon, or Solly, was in life. Yes, Solomon was born with challenges but he did not let his disability impede him. Instead, he strived to do his best in all that he did.”
Mr. Webster was shot and killed in West Bay in September 2014.
He won a gold medal in bocce at the regional Special Olympic Games in Puerto Rico in 2010. He was also known as a footballer and basketball player.
His parents, Caroline and David Webster, were presented with a bound copy of the law named for their son at the Government Administration Building in George Town on Tuesday.
Ms. Webster recalled her son’s bravery and successes in the face of adversity. She tearfully recounted a triumphant football performance in Jamaica, where he scored three goals.
“My son makes me proud,” she said. “I feel that this is the best compliment we ever had in life. It makes me feel like carrying on my life, like he’s still alive, like there are still five of us. There were five of us and now we’re four.
“We’re trying to hold the family together. But this is a miracle to see what has come.”
She praised the work and support of Shari Smith, his teacher at Lighthouse School.
“Ms. Shari is an angel to me. Solomon has got angels down here over me to keep me strong. He was so lovely and I miss him,” she said.
Ms. Smith said the legislation marked a momentous occasion in the country’s history.
“Solomon was one of my first students. This is something that has been a long time coming in terms of the law for the persons with disabilities. I think the naming of this law after Solomon embeds really what his life was all about,” Ms. Smith said.
Since April, the National Council for Persons with Disabilities has been working on establishing policy requirements under the law, which will determine the government’s disability policy through 2033.