Sport

SOJ to share ideas with the Caribbean

BY SANJAY MYERS Observer staff reporter myerss@jamaicaobserver.com

Tuesday, April 22, 2014    

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SPECIAL Olympics Jamaica (SOJ) will host a cadre of regional counterparts during the staging of the annual Caribbean Business Meeting at the Jamaica Pegasus hotel from this Thursday through to Saturday.

After Thursday's opening ceremony, which is scheduled to commence at 9:00 am, a high-level team from Special Olympics North America (SONA), the region's governing body, will lead several training programmes.

The focus will be on marketing, social media management and fund-raising, as well as on providing exposure to Athlete Leadership (ALPS), Unified Sports coaching and Law Enforcement Torch Run.

The representatives from SONA will be Amie Dugan, the director of marketing and communications; Chuck Loring, from the Board of Development and Fund-raising; Marie Merritt, the senior manager of Unified Sports; Nancy Sawyer, the senior vice-president of Athlete Leadership; and Annette Lynch, the senior manager of Coaching Excellence and Sports Education.

Lorna Bell, the executive director of SOJ, said she welcomes the expected attendance of athletes and officials of 17 other Caribbean countries, namely, Cayman Islands, Trinidad & Tobago, St Kitts & Nevis, St Vincent and the Grenadines, the Bahamas, Anguilla, Aruba, Bonaire, Curacao, Guadeloupe, Belize, Haiti, Guyana, Suriname, Dominica, British Virgin Islands and St Lucia.

Bell said Jamaica, who are seen as front-runners in the Caribbean in Unified Sports training and competition, are ready to "share new ideas" with their neighbours.

She stressed the significance of Unified Sports in building awareness on intellectual disability and said a major aim is to "help to get coaches and everyone on board".

SOJ, linking with Scotiabank Business House team, has been active in Unified Football for six years. Two weeks ago, the local organisation expanded its reach into basketball, made possible through a partnership with club outfit Urban Knights.

SOJ has been invited to the inaugural Special Olympics Unified Football Cup in Malaysia between October 29, and November 10 this year.

The inclusive Unified Sports programme brings together athletes with intellectual disabilities and individuals without these disabilities as teammates for training and competition.

Jamaica attracted global recognition due to their historic achievements at the Special Olympics 2013 World Winter Games in the Republic of Korea.

The tropical island won silver medals in two ice figure-skating categories to go with their second place finish in floor hockey at the eight-day Championship.

The United States will host the next Special Olympics World Championships in the form of the 2015 Los Angeles Summer Games.

Special Olympics empowers people with intellectual disabilities, promotes acceptance for all, and fosters communities of understanding and respect across the world.

The disabilities can either be acquired or genetic and can include cases of cerebral palsy, Down's Syndrome, autism, and traumatic brain injury.

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