WITH A more fleshed-out concept and vision, president of the Jamaica Paralympic Association Christopher Samuda says he is hoping that this year’s National Paralympic Day activities will see increased visibility and support for para-athletes.
Samuda was speaking at yesterday’s launch of the event and activities at the Jamaica Olympic Association headquarters. The day will be celebrated on March 11 with events honouring the accomplishments of Jamaica’s para-athletes and Olympians.
Samuda said this year there is a concrete vision for the celebration, which he hopes the country can rally behind. The tagline for the day of celebrations is “I’m phenomenal”.
“This paralympic day differed from our first Paralympic day because we didn’t have a philosophy that underpinned the activity. This year is “I’m Phenomenal.” This year is making the possible out of the impossible and we are telegraphing that to our athletes for them to understand that their destinies are in their hands,” Samuda told The Gleaner.
With emphasis also on education, Samuda hopes that this will not only have lasting effects in building an inclusive sporting environment but also attract support to help athletes in their various sporting efforts as well as life after.
There is a public campaign to recognise para-athletes for their prowess, their capacity and I have always felt that education must be your first port of call. In the para-Olympic movement, we don’t treat them with disabilities, they have abilities and we are honing their competencies both on the field of play as well as in the classroom. So that after sports, which has a shelf life, they can make themselves useful to society.”
Citing the importance of infrastructure that accommodates para-athletes, para-archer Acee Green, who is in his first year of competition, expressed the importance of getting tangible support.
“This being my first year among the para-athletes, it is a massive moment. I know from my day-to-day personal life, a lot of the facilities in Jamaica, the buildings just a lot of sports, in general, they are not centred around para-athletes,” Green said “Taking archery into the Pan American Games for Jamaica is a massive thing because it is a new sport out here but is almost a couple of years into being a new sport in the Olympics in general. So I am proud to be a part of the movement.”
According to Samuda, other sporting associations have been building their para-athletic programmes and he hopes that this will lead to more well-rounded citizens.
“We called upon the individual federations to take on board their para-athletes. Badminton has done it, archery has taken it on, surfing has. What we want to do is build a cascade of professional and competent athletes so that they can take their rightful place on the international scene and they can represent their country with distinction,” Samuda said.
“And after they can go on to successful careers and that is why we also emphasise education.”
Read more: https://jamaica-gleaner.com/article/sports/20230301/samuda-hopes-more-visibility-2023-paralympic-day