A camp that was aimed at children with special needs ended today at the Price Barracks in Ladyville. The camp, known as Shriver’s Camp, is held annually for children with special needs engaging them in fun filled sports and activities. Special Olympics Belize established the camp with the intentions of breaking the societal blocks that have always been associated with anyone living their lives with special needs or disabilities. National Director of Special Olympic Belize, Michael Blease spoke on the important role Special Olympic Belize has had on the families and children with special needs and how beneficial and impactful the annual Shriver’s Camp has been.
Michael Blease – National Director of Special Olympic Belize: The Special Olympics is an organization, international and locally here, internationally providing opportunities for children with intellectual disability. Camp Shriver is a camp that was originated originally by Shriver Kennedy from the United States. He served for one of the presidents in the United States way back and we just celebrated our 50th anniversary in July of this year so Special Olympics Camp Shriver is an opportunity for children to come out and participate in sporting activities that which we believe give them an opportunity to interact and to learn new sports and little sports training and thing.
Sitnah Blease: What would you want to inform the general public when it comes to children or adults in Belize who are living with special needs or disabilities.
Michael Blease – National Director of Special Olympic Belize: Oh definitely we would like to share with them thave having a disability doesn’t mean that you don’t have the ability to achieve opportunities in life. Having a disability should not keep you back from accomplishing what you believe you can do and Special Olympics is that avenue to provide opportunities and if you are out there with a child having a disability don’t be afraid. Contact us and let us assist you; we have our team from NARCIE and those are persons who are a supporting group to Special Olympics and they provide educational support to children who have disability. We have six district chapters and in those district chapters there are volunteers but we specifically have a district committee who assist in each program that we have and they have a task because they are all volunteers. They have a task to bring out the children to provide the same training and opportunities for them within their local community which is a bit tough because you know there is this stigma with disability that we are all as country working to bring that awareness so that people can come out of the shadow and believe that they can be apart of society.
Stann Creek District Lead and Sports Coordinator of the Camp Norman Koko also shared his views on how beneficial the camp is for the children.
Norman Koko – Stann Creek District Lead, Sports Coordinator: Camp Shriver is about playing unified. We invite athletes partners , volunteers and when we come here we play games in order to cement friendship; Acceptance without any form of discrimination. This year unlike other years; our priority is to have our athletes and partners as trained, that is registered formally. Based on our registration will be clarified to therefore play locally and internationally in all sports.
Sitnah Blease: Any final thoughts or words you would like to give back to our listeners and viewers about children and adults living with disabilities and special needs?
Norman Koko – Stann Creek District Lead, Sports Coordinator: All children; especially children with intellectual disabilities deserve a chance to play, to have fun and Special Olympics Belize is an avenue for that freedom to play. We play unified so we ask each and every person out there who would like to aid or support us in terms of volunteering services. Having your children join the various programs in different districts; to come out and our main goal is we are preparing ourselves for the world games next year in Abu Dhabi.
Love News also spoke with two of the participants who attended the camp.
Sitnah Blease: What would you want to tell people about the camp?
Danisha Diego – Participant: Ms. it is a fun place to participate with the Special Olympics game.
Obed Cobb – Participant: I am playing goalkeeper now and we are going to play the final against PG at 11.
Sitnah Blease: Okay that’s great; have you met any new friends since you’ve come to play the games?
Obed Cobb – Participant: Of course i have made a lot like Shane, Jesus and Agira.
Reporting for Love News I am Sitnah Blease.