“Brave in the Attempt:” Special Olympics Boosts Profiles of Disabled
Almost three hundred athletes across the country participate in the various sporting programs of the Special Olympics, Belize Chapter. Disability or not, every athlete is skilled in a particular discipline and are given an opportunity to represent the country internationally. Over the weekend, Special Olympics Belize put off its annual fun run, which is a forum to spread awareness as well as to generate much needed funding for its various programs. News Five’s Duane Moody reports.
Duane Moody, Reporting
Close to a hundred persons, including athletes gathered as early as five a.m. on Saturday at the Stella Maris School for the Belize City Special Olympics Fun Run. The event, which was held simultaneously across all six districts, is put off to bring awareness to the public that persons living with intellectual disabilities are talented in sports, specifically track and field and have represented the country internationally.
Caryl Brannon, Belize District Administrative League, Special Olympics Belize
“This morning we had a total of ninety-four people registered; I think we still have some people who did not register who participated in the fun run this morning. We still have people coming in as we speak. We also had a lot of volunteers. We had police coming out to volunteer and help with servicing; we had the B.D.F. who were at the water stops around the route and we also have first aid. So we had a whole lot of people. It wasn’t as much as we expected but I am happy to say that there were a lot of new faces that we saw this morning. so it was still a success for us.”
“Is it true that a lot of people actually supported, but just that they didn’t show up today?”
“Yes, people bought the shirts. People are still asking about the shirts and they can still purchase the shirts after today, so shirt sales don’t end today. And other people are pledging their support to help with other activities throughout the year. So it was a success overall, for Belize District and I am sure the same for other districts as well.”
The participants did warm-up exercises before taking on the one-and-a-half and three-mile routes. Several organizations fielded teams for the annual run. For the first time this year, B.T.L. staff came out in support.
Caroline Brannon, B.T.L. Team
“It’s Special Olympics and at some point or time, we never know when we will be there or somebody from us will be there so we just decided to come and support the Special Olympics.”
“This is the first time that you guys are out here?”
“Yes it is the first time, but we plan to do it…hopefully we will make it an annual event.”
Also coming out in support was the Ministry of Education, including Chief Executive Officer Doctor Carol Babb. As it currently stands, the education system is inclusive of persons living with disabilities. Several, including Doctor Candy Armstrong, are Special Olympics Belize Volunteers.
Dr. Candy Armstrong, Special Olympics Belize Volunteers
“One of the objectives of this run is to propel acceptance and inclusion for persons with disabilities and so as a ministry, even within our schools, we promote a concept of inclusion. And so we wanted to support the athletes and their families by participating today. It’s always a challenge, but more and more we see other people coming onboard and more people making tangible efforts and joining on to say that yes we believe, that even though a person may have a disability, that person should have equal rights to the rights as anybody as awarded under our constitution.”
Duane Moody for News Five.