Special Olympians get ready for Summer Games
SPECIAL Olympics Jamaica (SOJ) will stage its 30th annual Summer Games on June 21 and 22 at the Stadium East complex with the opening ceremony set for the National Arena at 5:00 pm on the first day of competition.
The sporting disciplines to be competed in are track and field, badminton, volleyball, roller skating and bocce. The increasingly popular bocce is a game in which players use an underarm action to bowl a ball at a target. Points are gained by the ball's proximity to the target.
The CHASE Fund is the major sponsor of the two-day national championships where an estimated 600 athletes across the 14 parishes are expected to participate.
The next international Summer Games will be held in Los Angeles in 2015.
The SOJ movement was recently thrown into the global spotlight after Jamaica's remarkable performances at the Pyeongchang 2013 World Winter Games.
The Jamaicans surprised many by winning two silver medals in ice figure skating to go with their second-place finish in floor hockey at the eight-day Championships, which ended on February 5 in the Republic of Korea.
Jamaica's history-making figure skating pair of Tamra Mitchell and Nigel Davis took silver in the Team Level One category of ice dancing, while the latter also placed second in the Singles Male equivalent.
Jamaica's 16-member floor hockey team fought tooth and nail to win the silver medal in the top-tier division of the competition.
The achievements of the players and management staff were not overlooked, evidenced by Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller's hosting of a luncheon for the SOJ and its sponsors at Jamaica House in March.
In her speech, the prime minister hailed the athletes for their "excellent" performances, while describing them as "stars on earth".
"I want to commend the Special Olympians who indeed are special and bring something special to Jamaica.
"Our Olympians shone a light of Jamaica across the world. Our Olympians carried that torch, they were excellent... I would like to, on behalf of the government, say a big thank you.
"You are our stars on earth," she said to rapturous appause.
The Special Olympic International (SOI) body provides people with intellectual disabilities the chance to show their athletic capabilities and targets the breaking down of barriers that exclude these people from mainstream society.
The disabilities can either be acquired or genetic and can include cases of autism, Down's Syndrome, traumatic brain injury and cerebral palsy.