Cause An Effect is a for-purpose, cause-related media and content creation company whose work revolves around two main values – Respect and Inclusion. The organisation was launched and registered in the second quarter of 2013 by Francis Escayg and his wife Laura Pierre-Escayg. It is our pleasure to share the story of Cause An Effect as told by its co-founder, Francis Escayg in this month’s Advocacy Works! Spotlight.
How did Cause An Effect get started?
Our son Isaiah was diagnosed with Incontinentia Pigmenti at birth and he is on the severe spectrum of disabilities. This means that he will need to be assisted for the rest of his life.
When my wife and I asked ourselves, “What will become of Isaiah when we kick the bucket?” we became anxious and angry. We wondered about his quality of life in Trinidad and Tobago if circumstances remained as they were. That was twelve (12) years ago. We also realized that all families of children with special needs shared this common pain regardless of age, race, religion and economic status. No one was exempt.
I became highly motivated and driven to find answers to that question and I promised to use all my skills as a multi-disciplinary artist to reveal that pain, rally the community and share our findings. To this end I went back to school to better arm myself for the journey we were about to embark upon.
That “big question”, pointed us to our Vision:
“To build sustainable, assisted-living and work communities populated by persons with special needs and disabilities, supported and encouraged to live their most productive lives with dignity and respect in a loving and caring environment.”
Research on contextualising these communities revealed that in addition to looking at our limited geographical space, we must also consider our culture and our relationship with inclusion. If these assisted-living and work communities are to become sustainable and gain traction, we must build a foundation of empathy and greater understanding. As a result, our Mission materialised:
“To transform society’s perspectives about persons with special needs and disabilities and to lay the foundation for a more inclusive society.”
From here, Cause An Effect was born.
History and achievements
In our first three (3) years we established our presence in the disabilities and special needs community as a champion for the cause. We launched in May 2013 at the Little Carib Theatre with an unplugged concert titled ‘The Artist & The Initiative’ featuring my wife Laura. We rolled that launch into staging a more public announcement of our cause, which became ‘The September Project.’ That year, ‘The September Project’ was a 30k relay run from Cunupia to Port-of-Spain and a 2k walk around the Queens Park Savannah, facilitated by fitness group Poison Ivy and friends.
We used that profile and contributions from the event to build our website, to create three thirty-second PSAs for radio and to facilitate outreach and building strategic partnerships. To that end, we worked in varying capacities with Families In Action, CKFTO, CODO, Horses Helping Humans, The Immortelle Center for Special Education. For ‘The September Project’ 2014, we committed to Special Olympics Trinidad and Tobago. We moved ‘The September Project’ (2015) featuring Laura’s performance at the Little Carib Theatre up from unplugged to full band replete with brass section. The show was titled ‘Banana Republic – All Souled Out’ and we are looking forward to 2017.
In 2015, we started production on our feature film “Soul Dieu.”
This film is a very important part of our story and speaks to the universal challenges and concerns of all persons with special needs and disabilities and their families. It will serve to educate and inform and bring the viewer into the experience from multiple perspectives. We are actively pursuing funding for this project.
We are also in production of a five-part, value-centered video series titled ‘For Persons Without Disabilities’ which highlights Special Olympians, their coaches, families and man-in-the-street. We have completed two videos so far entitled ‘Respect’ and ‘Appreciation’, and we are actively pursuing funding to complete the remaining videos and go to national television in the fourth quarter of 2016.
Ours is one of those big, existential causes where earned revenue is tough or non-existent, and sustained action is needed. As the sun is rising on our fourth year we are activating a new phase that includes a gigantic push for sustainability that will bring us closer to our Vision and a more productive future for persons with special needs and disabilities.
Message to others
We would like all persons to understand that individuals with special needs and disabilities are human beings. They are born with an inherent dignity that makes them human. No one can take that away from them. To deny them the opportunity to live their fullest lives is to deny ourselves the opportunity to live our fullest lives, to look down on them is to look down on ourselves, and to think that we can never find ourselves in that position means that we have never looked long enough in the mirror.
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