In April 1966, a group of disable athletes from the United States of America visited Jamaica to expose our disabled to the elements of sports. This was one of the most enjoyable weeks we have ever experienced. The enthusiasm, which generated from that, would be athletes who saw and began to understand how continued practice can produce unbelievable results in the development of skill, was something we have never forgotten.
In August of the same year, Jamaica was host to the Commonwealth Paraplegic Wheelchair Games which was declared open by Price Philip.
Because of the continued interest in sports shown by our disables patients, those who left the Centre and returned to active work, it became important to provide a club where we could meet in the evenings regularly. The Polio Foundation Trust and the Jamaica Paraplegic Association combined to find the funds to build a sports Club. The members of the Club raised funds and paid over these funds to Mr. Sammy Henriques, leaving themselves free of debt.
The Club was run by a group of ex-patients under the Presidency of Mr. Huntley Forester. Other Presidents since its inception were Mr. Percell Fearon, Mr. Patrick Reid, Mr. Anthony Bryan and Mr. Herbert Wray.
The Jamaica Paraplegics Sports team has gone all over the World promoting the idea of Sports for the disabled by their outstanding success. It can be safely said that no small country has come anywhere near Jamaica in the number of Gold Medals and World Records which have accumulated over the year due to hard work and determination.
In 1988 Jamaica was hit by a devastating hurricane – Hurricane Gilbert- and the club was used to accommodate the patients from the Henriques Wing- this building was badly damaged. The patients remained in the Club for approximately 12 months. Paints, toilets and toilet fixtures, glass window panes, sports equipment (including wheelchairs) and other materials were removed from the storeroom. The Club was left in a dilapidated condition and was unfit for use as a club. The Club has not been in operation since then.
A group of interested/ concerned persons met with Prof. Sir John Golding to see how the Sports Club could be released to us with a view to re-establishing and getting the club back in full operation. Prof. John Golding was very pleased and enthusiastic about the gesture and committed himself to help. He however expressed grave concern about the problems of the cub in the past. We assured him that every effort would be made to have the club operated in keeping with the rules and regulations of the Mona Rehab. Centre bearing in mind that there was a hospital.
Esso Standard Oil (Ja.) Limited, a multinational co-operation sponsored the team attending the Paralympics Games in Barcelona and has committed its continued support in the development of sports for persons with disabilities, i.e., providing equipment, repairs to the club, etc.
The sports club in its new thrust will be opening its membership to accommodate the hearing impaired, the visually impaired, the special Olympians, the physically disabled and a carefully selected group of able-bodied persons to become members.
A detailed programme of activities will be put in place, with a sports director appointed to monitor and manage (in consultation with the Management Team) the operations of the club. No decision will be taken to subdivide the building (club/house) to the Physiotherapy School for use as a classroom or office.
- To build self esteem
- To promote re-integration into the society
- To ensure the self confidence among
- To adequately utilize leisure time
- To exchange ideas relating to disability and disabled persons
- To promote contact between disabled and non-disabled people
- To motivate newly disabled persons
- To facilitate dialogue and provide an spirit of caring and sharing with other members of the club
- To open the facilities if the Club to all disabled persons as well as carefully selected non-disabled persons
- To promote a vigorous and ongoing fundraising programme
- To teach disabled persons the necessary skills relating to a variety of games based on their level of disability
- To act as a facilitator for the promotion and inclusion of disabled sports in Physical Education Curricula of Teachers’ Colleges
- To organize at least one national games annually for disabled persons
- to develop and implement a Physical Fitness Programme for all members of the club
Constraints & Conditions:
- Close proximity to Mona rehabilitation Centre
- Lack of immediate funding
- Low socio-economic background among persons with disabilities
- High unemployment rate among persons with disabilities
- Low academic levels among persons with disabilities
- Lack of up-to-date equipment for persons with disabilities
- A limited approach for sports for the disabled
- Sports Club is not an independent entity neither owned or operated by disabled persons
- Lack of consistent training programme in between international events
- Lack of competent coach
- Carry out general repairs on the existing facilities
- To put in place a proper Management Team
- To negotiate for the release of the Club, its accessories and funds to the Management Team so appointed
- To write a detailed training programme
- To set up a criteria for selecting persons for national and international games and established a suitable criteria and selection panel
- To write suitable rules and regulations governing the use and care of the club
- To write a membership protocol and to determine an appropriate fee structure
- To seek support from the local business and international community
- To train new and young athletes on a continuous basis
Sports can be of immense therapeutic value. It represents the most natural form of remedial exercise and can successfully be seen as a complement to the conventional methods of physiotherapy. It is invaluable in restoring the disabled person’s strength, co-ordination, speed and endurance.
RECREATION AND PSYCHOLOGICAL VALUE
The disabled should regard training in sport not just as a muscular struggle for strength and victory, but as a source of pleasure, the great remedial exercise lies in its recreational value, which provides an additional motivation for the disabled by restoring that pattern of play activity and the desire to express joy and pleasure in life so deeply inherent in every human being.
Many disabled persons are initially withdrawn, introverted, reserved and depressed as a result of their disability. Their involvement in a programme of recreational and competitive sport as a part of the process of restoring them to their place in society has tended to eliminate this withdrawal patter. It gives the participant an outlet for his repressed energies grounded in his desire to reach so called ‘normalcy’.
A MEANS OF SOCIAL INTEGRATION INTO THE COMMUNITY
Sports should become a driving force for the disabled to seek or to restore his contract with the integration and re-integration as an equal and respected citizen.
Evaluation and Monitoring Strategy
- The first line of Evaluation will be done by the Management Committee who will meet on a monthly basis and will monitor existing program and make recommendations for the development of new program
- The second step in the Evaluation Process will be carried out through a Management Sub-Committee, which would deal with designated aspect of the Sports Programme. This Sub-Committee will comprise members from the Management Committee as well as other interested persons.
- The day to day monitoring of the program will be carried out by a competent coach who will be responsible for the overall training programme as well as the maintenance of discipline among the membership
- The Management Committee will be required to submit regular reports on the performance of the Club to funding Agencies both local and international.