Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, the sports world was put on hold. But, that did not stop the Digicel Jamaica Foundation from supporting Special Olympics Jamaica (SOJ). Finally, after much anticipation and a two-year hiatus from any major tournaments, SOJ was once again able to compete at the USA Games in Orlando, Florida from June 5 to June 11, 2022.
SOJ was among the 10 Caribbean delegations that attended the USA Games. The Jamaican team made its presence known by winning 12 medals in three sporting disciplines. Among some of the best performances were Dantasia Fisher’s Division F13 100m win and Richard Smikle’s gold medal performance in the men’s 200m.
What This Relationship Means to the Digicel Jamaica Foundation and SOJ
Both the Digicel Jamaica Foundation and SOJ are centred around making sure that no one with physical, intellectual or other developmental disabilities in Jamaica gets left behind. One way that the Digicel Jamaica Foundation contributes to this goal is by registering citizens with the Jamaica Council for Persons with Disabilities, which allows them to receive government benefits and services. Other initiatives include holding fundraisers and completing projects to build Special Needs Centres. Likewise, Special Olympics Jamaica provides programming in sports, health, education and community building to tackle biases and inequality.
Since 2001, the Digicel Jamaica Foundation has backed SOJ, something that staff members from both sides do not take lightly. While reflecting on the partnership, Digicel Foundation leadership has said that the collaboration proves what can be accomplished when corporations extend aid to others.
A Comprehensive Look at the Pair’s Partnership
Aside from uplifting the athletes who participated in the USA Games, the Digicel Jamaica Foundation has helped SOJ in a variety of ways.
First, the Digicel Jamaica Foundation has seen the construction of the Special Olympic facilities at the National Stadium. The Digicel Jamaica Foundation also carried out refurbishing work on SOJ’s multipurpose facility, located next to the National Indoor Sports Centre at Independence Park Limited. The total cost was estimated at around J$8.2 million. Renovations mainly focused on the multipurpose courts, bocce ball surfaces and spectator stands.
Second, the ongoing relationship between the Digicel Jamaica Foundation and SOJ has allowed Jamaica to bring teams to new events around the world. For example, Jamaica sent three unified teams to the Special Olympics in Abu Dhabi for the first time in 2019. When this competition occurred, Abu Dhabi was actually the first country in the Middle East – North African region to host a Special Olympics.
Third, the Digicel Jamaica Foundation has bestowed recognition plaques to SOJ athletes and support staff following major events to commemorate their sacrifice and hard work. Lastly, the Digicel Jamaica Foundation has continued to promote allies of Jamaica’s special needs community as brand ambassadors. In 2020, the Digicel Jamaica Foundation re-signed Paralympian gold medallist Alphanso Cunningham.
To find out how you can get involved with Special Olympics, explore the link below.