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JIS News

Representatives from 49 communities in Spanish Town and its environs will rise above the divisive impact of conflicts to participate in the St. Catherine Sports and Culture Extravaganza.
The participants and their supporters will converge on the grounds of the GC Foster College of Physical Education and Sports this weekend, May 13 and 14.
The extravaganza, which is organized by the Social Development Commission (SDC), in association with the Ministry of Education and Youth and the St. Catherine Parish Council, was first held in the parish a year ago. Originally a one-day event, the resounding success experienced last year has led the organizers to extend it by a day.
“It’s really a tool for actually pulling together communities, and to build Spanish Town in a positive light,” Manager of Community Development Planning in the St. Catherine Division (Region 5) of the SDC, Patrick Johnson, informed JIS News.
“We are trying to see if we can build bridges and a number of teams will be coming from what are unfortunately called volatile areas,” Mr. Johnson said.
The event will see more than 300 teams vying for more than $500,000 in cash prizes, trophies and medals in track and field, netball, six-a-side football, 3-on-3 basketball, and domino competitions.
One of the objectives of hosting the extravaganza, said Mr. Johnson, was to “provide an avenue for the expression of cultural, artistic and athletic talent in St. Catherine”.
In fulfilling its cultural component, the event will see the likes of Noddy Virtue, Nanko and other talents gleaned from the Jamaica Cultural Development Commission (JCDC), in performance.
Additionally, agencies such as HEART Trust/NTA, Children First, the Fire Department, the HIV/STI Prevention and Control Unit of the Ministry of Health, the Dispute Resolution Foundation, the National Youth Service and the National Centre for Youth Development, will mount displays and share information about their work. Mr. Johnson said that this would be done to “improve communities’ knowledge and access to services being provided by various agencies”.
The National Volunteers Programme will also be represented on both days, Mr. Johnson added. Persons will have the opportunity to register to give voluntary services in various areas, including the ICC Cricket World Cup 2007. Information will be provided on the benefits to be derived by the parish from Cricket World Cup, which will be hosted in the region next year.
The extravaganza will be open from 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. each day and is free to the public. It is anticipated that “positive social attitudes” will be fostered, as supporters from the various communities will be given an opportunity to interact with each other.
“We are also hoping that this will help to spread the positive vibes,” Mr. Johnson said.