Minister with responsibility for Sports, Hon. Neita Headley, says the Government remains committed to developing an inclusive sports policy that will ensure Jamaicans have equal access to sporting activities, regardless of any impairment.
“I believe that sports in Jamaica should be accessible for all and the policy of Jamaica for sports seeks to address accessibility and inclusiveness, which will allow all Jamaicans to participate in sports at all levels – sports for competition, sports for recreation and sports as a business,” she said.
Mrs. Neita-Headley was addressing the opening ceremony for the Third National Deaf Sports Day, held at the Mona Bowl at the University of the West Indies campus in St. Andrew on November 23.
The Minister said she was confident that the day’s activities would shore up the deaf community’s efforts as they prepare to participate in the 2013 Deaf Olympics, “which I know you will do very well in, because Jamaicans do well in everything that we do.”
“In every aspect of sports that we have entered, Jamaicans have done very well. Our paralympians have just brought home gold in Mr. Alphanso Cunningham; we have the exciting Usain Bolt, the fastest man in the world; we have Shelly-Ann (Fraser-Pryce), the fastest woman in the world, and I believe our successes at the Deaf Olympics will be no different,” she said.
The two-day event, hosted by Deaf Sports Jamaica, involves the participation of individuals from high schools and clubs catering to the deaf, in events such as football, netball, lime and spoon race, three-legged race, shot putt, 50 to 400-metre races, and relay races. Today’s event catered to high school students, while tomorrow’s event is geared towards the adults.
President of Deaf Sports Jamaica, Kevin McDonald, who spoke to JIS News via translator, Antoinette Aiken, said the goal of the Sports Day is to improve the level of participation of deaf persons in athletics and other types of sports, not only at the national level, but internationally as well.
“This is our third year and we really use it to bring all the deaf communities together from all over Jamaica to become involved (in sports). It doesn’t matter what level they are, if they are deaf or hard of hearing, we want them to become involved in this deaf sports even at an international level,” he said.
He noted that he was among the two officials and four athletes who participated in the World Deaf Athletic Championship in Canada last July, which “was a great experience for us. We didn’t go there to win, but we wanted to show that Jamaican deaf people can become involved in things at that level.”
“We want to make it an annual thing…that we go into different competitions all over the world. We are working towards becoming involved in the Deaf Olympics which is next year July 26 to August 4 in Bulgaria. We hope to send 20 persons to that Deaf Olympics,” he informed.
Participating schools in the event include the Lister Mair/Gilby High School for the Deaf and the Danny Williams School for the Deaf in Kingston and St. Andrew; the May Pen Unit for the Deaf in Clarendon; St. Christopher’s School for the Deaf in St. Ann; the Jamaica Christian School for the Deaf in St. James; and the Kingston and St. Andrew, Manchester branches of the Caribbean Christian Centre for the Deaf.
Deaf Sports Jamaica is a non-profit organisation set up by the deaf community in 2010.