Governor General presents Paralympic Day declaration to JPA
Governor General Sir Patrick Allen (centre) stands with Jamaica Paralympic Association officials and national para-athletes during a special ceremony for the official handover of the declaration of Paralympic Day at King's House in St Andrew on Friday morning. (Photo: Joseph Wellington)

Jamaica Paralympic Association (JPA) President Christopher Samuda says the efforts to raise the profile of Jamaica's Paralympic movement will continue with three new outreach projects. This is even after Paralympic Day celebrations officially come to an end on Sunday.

The JPA received the official proclamation of Paralympic Day from Governor General Sir Patrick Allen at a special ceremony held at King's House in St Andrew on Friday morning. The proclamation was made in 2022 but the official handing over was delayed because of the restriction on assembly during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Paralympic Day, now officially recognised annually on March 11, seeks to celebrate the achievements of Jamaica throughout its history at the Paralympic Games.

"Paralympic Day is going to be celebrated not simply because we have accomplished a lot in the Paralympic Games – we have world record holders, we have gold medallists aplenty, silver and bronze medallists aplenty, but what we will be saying to Jamaicans is the Paralympians and Para-athletes are a critical part of the sporting stock and assets of Jamaica," Samuda said after the ceremony. "Why? Because we have risen above a lot of challenges, social and otherwise to bring pride and glory to the country. Why? Because they have done excellently despite limited resources, despite limited equipment, despite limited resources. Why? Because they have assumed a persona that regionalists and international sportsmen and sportswomen have embraced not only as champions but as standard-bearers."

The three projects, under the declaration, are called Paralympic Connect, Paralympic Inspire, and Paralympic Care.

"All of those three activations are going to be humanitarian," Samuda said. "We are going to increase the profile of the Paralympic movement in Jamaica and also regionally. It will establish us as an advocate for Paralympism on the world stage."

Paralympic Connect is a town hall-style motivational session with social media influencers Wayne and Tami Mitchell interacting with para-athletes in attendance. This takes place at Olympic Manor at the Jamaica Olympic Association Headquarters at 10:00 am on Saturday. Sports and business personalities have also been invited to attend.

Paralympic Inspire involves para-athletes sharing their experiences with a regional audience. Samuda says the intention is to create a culture that benefits the Paralympic movement.

Paralympic Care sees the JPA visiting communities and places of safety to spread the message of Paralympism to marginalised and disabled individuals.

Para-surfer Nathaniel Bailey is honoured to have met the governor general at this ceremony.

"It's really a good feeling for me because I'm being highlighted now," he said. "It's good to know that we have the support from the nation, the governor general himself, that we're supposed to keep doing what we're doing and today, it hit home."

Bailey is enjoying the popularity he has received since the JPA started its series of activities promoting Paralympic Day.

"At school (Jamaica College), all I get now is 'I see you on TV and social media, and in the paper'," he said. "I'm using my platform to push it too, so it's a good thing."

Paralympian Alphanso Cunningham, who met Allen for the third time on Friday, is pleased that his colleagues could have this experience as well.

"I'm happy to be back here," he said. "It's a warm feeling. Now I know that if I'm retiring, Paralympics in Jamaica is in a great place now. These young para-athletes coming up know their charge, they know their duty, they know what they must do and I'm glad I'm a part of paving that path for them to follow and possibly be even better than me."

There will also be a 3x3 wheelchair basketball competition at the Sir John Golding Rehabilitation Centre in August Town, St Andrew on Saturday at 5:00 pm.

The festivities end with a church service at the St Andrew Parish Church in Half-Way-Tree on Sunday at 10:30 am.

BY RACHID PARCHMENT Digital sports coordinator

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