Jamaica News: Jamaica will join a host of other countries from around the world in celebrating Special Olympics International’s 50th anniversary this year.
Special Olympics Jamaica, which marks its 40th anniversary this year, will participate in several events organised by the international body, which get under way on July 17 with a four-day unified football tournament in Chicago, Illinois, USA.
Jamaica is the only Caribbean country slated to participate in this event.
In March 2019, the global body will stage the Special World Games in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, to which Jamaica will be sending a 98-member delegation, inclusive of three unified teams.
More than 7,000 athletes from 172 countries will parade their talents before a global audience from March 14 to 21.
As part of preparations leading up to these events, over 600 athletes drawn from all the parishes competed in various sporting disciplines in Special Olympics Jamaica’s 35th annual National Summer Games on June 29 and 30.
The events, which were held at Special Olympics Jamaica’s multipurpose court at Independence Park in Kingston, included bocce, badminton and volleyball on the first day.
The second day saw a Cayman Islands team joining local participants in the unified basketball competition. The day also included track and field events at the Stadium East complex.
State Minister in the Ministry of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport, Hon. Alando Terrelonge, who represented Portfolio Minister, Hon. Olivia Grange, at the opening ceremony, commended the games’ organisers and volunteers for their tireless efforts in supporting persons with special needs.
“The essence of Special Olympics is creating awareness, fostering a culture of acceptance and ensuring that the spirit of inclusion is alive across the world for our fellow citizens with special needs. Together we are stronger when we give every single Jamaican, irrespective of mental or physical disability, an opportunity to try,” he said.
Special Olympics Jamaica Board Chairman, Aldrick “Allie” McNab, said this year’s games hold special significance in the context of the organisation’s 40th anniversary.
“No less than a Usian Bolt or Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, (are) our (special) athletes (who) take pride in wearing the colours of Jamaica and representing (their country),” he stated.
Public Relations and Administrative Manager for the event’s main sponsor, the Culture, Health, Arts, Sport and Education (CHASE) Fund, Hillary Coulton, who represented Chief Executive Officer, William “Billy” Heaven, also commended Special Olympics Jamaica for its unwavering dedication to heightening awareness about persons with special needs and facilitating their inclusion in society.
“The CHASE Fund has been supporting the Summer Games since 2004. As a policy, we are committed to providing meaningful opportunities, so that persons with disabilities can achieve their full potential. These national games are more than a competition… . They provide a window for fellow Jamaicans to see what persons with physical and intellectual challenges can achieve with the appropriate support,” she said.
Source: JIS News