World beaters

SOJ athletes attract high praise in UAE

Sport Reporter
Special Olympics Summer Games

Friday, March 22, 2019

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ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates — Special Olympics Jamaica (SOJ) athletes have come in for immense praise for their performances at the World Summer Games.

And rightly so, after accounting for 33 dazzling medals across eight sporting disciplines in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

But Jamaican actress and media and communication consultant Fae Ellington, in the UAE as an honoured guest of SOJ, is urging all parties to take note of the humanitarian aspect of the Special Olympics movement.

“The facilities are great and everybody is so respectful and kind, and then we are so particularly happy because our athletes have done so well.

“But I'd love more Jamaicans to understand what Special Olympics Jamaica offers. I'd like more Jamaicans to understand that persons with intellectual disabilities can benefit from being a part of Special Olympics.

“It's for us to understand that people with intellectual disabilities can contribute, and be fulfilled. But if we locked them up in a house, lock them up in a room, don't make them go to school, don't allow them to be a part of the wider community, then they will never realise their full potential. They are determined to realise it if we will only open the doors for them,” she told the Jamaica Observer in a passionate plea.

Through sport activities and competition, the Special Olympics movement focuses on breaking down barriers that exclude people with intellectual disabilities from mainstream society.

The most common syndromes associated with intellectual disability include autism and Down syndrome.

Jamaica had over 70 athletes competing in aquatics, athletics, unified badminton, unified basketball, bocce, unified football (male and female), roller skating, and volleyball (male and unified female) at the 2019 World Games, which ran from March 14 to 21.

Ellington, who has long volunteered as master of ceremony for the opening of the SOJ annual National Summer Games, says the experience in the UAE has been an eye-opener.

“It's a golden opportunity, I've never been to the World Games before, and though I've supported SOJ for over quarter-century, to be at the World Games is an experience you just cannot imagine. I'm just honoured and privileged to be here, to really experience the World Games in Abu Dhabi,” she said.

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