There is much more to the Special Olympics than just the “feel good” component of giving “differently abled” children an opportunity to shine on the national sporting stage.
This is the view of Donna King-Brathwaite, chairperson of Special Olympics Barbados, who spoke with Barbados TODAY during the 38th staging of the annual national games, held at the Carlton grounds, Black Rock, St Michael today.
“There has been a tremendous amount of growth since our start in 1977. We need to recognize that Special Olympics is an international movement . . . It has created awareness for persons with intellectual challenges in the main, giving them an opportunity to compete, be seen, be heard and for people to recognize that these people can make a valuable contribution to any society.
“In terms of exposure and awareness, certainly Special Olympics continues to grow in that regard but what we would like to see is support for more of our activities, people don’t understand that we are fully a charity and therefore our funding comes from sponsorship and fund-raising,” said King-Brathwaite, who noted the organisation was in need of more funding to meet the ever expanding group of children which they facilitated.
She added: “The event itself has grown in terms of the athletes and the parents allowing them to be a part of the social structure that involves developmental activity. What we would like to see more of is the general public coming along, not just those who are intimately involved or involved because they have a relationship with someone who is differently abled. What we need to see is a real involvement of other persons in the society.”
Excitement was indeed etched on the faces of both athletes and spectators, who were vigorously waving flags and jumping in the stands from the first starting pistol until the end of the competition. After the opening ceremony, which featured the Royal Barbados Police Force band, the event got underway with the sprints with a number of excellent performances coming from the likes of Abigail Mayers and Cameron Cadogan in the 200m, as well as Deshawn Maynard and Jayquon Blades.