JIS News

The Honourable Olivia “Babsy” Grange, Minister of Information, Culture, Youth and Sports (MICYS) has said that the Government is pledged to see to further improvements for athletes involved in the Special Olympics.
Minister Grange’s comments came as she addressed the Opening Ceremony of Special Olympics Jamaica Annual Summer Games which was held at the University of Technology (Utech) on Friday, June 13. While conceding that progress has been made internationally, she said there was still a lot more to be done to assist this special group of persons and it is a challenge being tackled by the government of Jamaica.
It is true Miss Grange said that the Special Olympics programme internationally has served not only to improve the quality of life of individuals with intellectual challenges but had also helped to influence global public policy towards this group of persons.
She pointed out also that Special Olympics currently served two-point-five million people with intellectual disabilities in over 180 countries. “This has resulted in more focused policy changes in a number of countries leading to debates and research into issues of concern.”
In spite of the positive developments, however, the Minister said the socio economic challenges and needs of persons with intellectual challenges were yet to be given the attention they deserved.
Minister Grange said she had signaled to Mrs. Lorna Bell, Executive Director, that she intended to work with Special Olympics Jamaica.
She said the public needed to be aware that intellectual disability is seven times more prevalent than deafness, nine times more prevalent than cerebral palsy, 15 times more prevalent than total blindness and 35 times more prevalent than muscular dystrophy.
“Yet given proper coaching and sufficient practice time, most athletes with intellectual disabilities can successfully compete alongside or against many of their non-disabled peers,” Miss Grange said.
The Minister said that already started as part of the government’s programme to assist Special Olympics, was a monthly subvention from the Sports Development Foundation and coaching through the Institute of Sports. “And I am actively involved in all of their activities,” the Minister added.
Minister Grange said Jamaica was indebted to persons such as Mrs. Bell, former Cabinet Secretary, Dr. Carlton Davis and the leadership of Special Olympics Jamaica for the “fantastic work that you are doing for these wonderful intellectually challenged athletes.” She said Mrs. Bell had dedicated t her life to uplifting the disadvantaged, the less privileged and the challenged members of society.
Minister Grange added that Special Olympics Jamaica was to be commended for having over 3000 registered athletes covering all parishes and recalled proudly that, “last year we sent 55 athletes to Being, China and they returned with a record 48 medals, which surpassed the previous best result of 37 medals.’ She expressed confidence that such performance would inspire even greater achievements at future games.
The Minister also thanked Digicel for the contribution made b y that telecommunications company to the success of the Special Olympics Jamaica team.
Minister Grange reserved the biggest thank you for the special athletes who said continued to show that one could get by any challenge in life through commitment, determination and respect for others.
“Special Olympians are here to stay,” declared Minister Grange.

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