by Donella Hosten
Friday, 12 May 2017 marked a historic day for children living with disabilities in Grenada. The Jason Roberts Foundation and other stakeholders partnered with the Grenada National Council of the Disabled (GNCD) to host the 1st ever National Sports Meet for children living with disabilities at the Kirani James Athletic Stadium.
Coordinator at the GNCD, Hillary Gabriel, noted that it was indeed a special day for all involved. She expressed the sincerest gratitude to the main sponsor and partner for the event, the Jason Roberts Foundation. Gabriel commended the Ministry of Sport, the Ministry of Social Development, the Stadium Authority and the other agencies and individuals who came on board to make the day’s event a reality. This event was in the pipeline since last year, and Gabriel said that Minister for Sport, Hon Roland Bhola, gladly jumped at the idea.
This is the 1st year that the schools for Special Education have combined their sports meets and extended to other agencies such as the Dorothy Hopkin Home. Gabriel said they intend to make it an annual event, to include children who have already completed the school system, and it ought to be “bigger and better.”
During the short opening ceremony, Gabriel reminded those present that “people with disabilities have abilities and we have to give them opportunities to show their capabilities.”
Minister Bhola congratulated the GNCD and others involved on this initiative. He also pledged his ministry’s commitment to continued assistance. He reminded the children that the event is not just about winning, but about the encouragement and support that they receive.
Dr Mario Phillip, Special Needs Director of the Grenada Conference of Seventh Day Adventists, shared his views on the day with the NOW Grenada team. He said the event was used to sensitise the public and highlight that “persons living with disabilities can enjoy even physical activities.” He said they are “trying to bring awareness to persons who are living with disabilities,” and they are happy to have collaborated with the GNCD and the Jason Roberts Foundation. “As a church, we are trying to bring awareness to the wider public. There is a need “to be more sensitive and more inclusive to persons living with disabilities and to try to ensure that they integrate into every facet of our lives.”
Representatives from the Jason Roberts Foundation included Rob Burton, Disability Coordinator, and Johnathan Bath, Physical Education Teacher. Burton described the sports day as “fantastic,” and a celebration of how far the Foundation has come.
Some of the sporting events throughout the day included track and field, football, cricket, golf and boccia.
The NOW Grenada team caught up with a proud parent, Ms Marcia Charles, whose daughter attends the Victoria School for Special Education. She is an avid supporter of all the school’s activities, and Friday was no different for her. “Fun” is what she described it as, especially because her daughter was competing.