SPECIAL Olympics Jamaica family leader Vicky Pair has received commendation for a "genuine and moving" speech she gave at the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) last month-end on its Healthy Athletes Programme which has transformed her daughter Esther.
According to David Evangelista, senior director, Multilateral Partnerships and Development of Special Olympics International: "It was a proud moment for me to watch Vicky speak to the tremendous efforts of Special Olympics Jamaica, and the impact that Special Olympics Jamaica Healthy Athletes programme has had on her daughter Ester, and many others.
"I am greatly appreciative of her participation and passion, and moreover, appreciative of the continued leadership that Special Olympics Jamaica brings to our Movement every day," added Evangelista.
A teacher by profession, Pair said at the CGI that "it has always been very difficult to find doctors who would treat my daughter as a person and not as a child afflicted with Down Syndrome.
"As a baby Esther had respiratory problems and every time I took her to see the doctors her problems were never completely addressed, as I always heard 'well that's how it is with a child who had Down Syndrome'," she explained, trying to control her emotions.
She described as a "disaster" attempts to get health insurance for her "shining star" because she refused to fill out forms asking "what mental disorder" her daughter had. "To me Esther is one of the sanest persons that I know," she stressed.
Pair recalled medicine a professor had prescribed for Esther which "nearly killed her" and all her daughter had was a yeast infection.
Thanks to Healthy Athletes programme, Pair said, her eyes were opened "as to how a person with intellectual disabilities is really supposed to be treated. I do believe that without Healthy Athletes, Esther would not be where she is today and most definitely not as healthy as she is today" .
Esther, 26, won a silver medal in bocce at the World Special Olympic Summer Games in Athens, Greece last year.
Meanwhile, executive director of Special Olympics Jamaica, Lorna Bell, said that some 4,000 athletes here have benefited from the Healthy Athletes programme which started in 2004. The programme examines the athletes' eyes, ears, teeth, feet as well as a general test for screening such as blood pressure.
Wikipedia reports that "people with intellectual disabilities are encouraged to join Special Olympics for the physical activity, which helps lower the rate of cardiovascular disease and obesity within the intellectually disabled. Also, they gain many emotional and psychological benefits, including self-confidence, social competence, building greater athletic skills and higher self-esteem."