Sat | Dec 10, 2016

Special Olympians get basketball court

Published:Saturday | March 14, 2015 | 12:00 AM
Natalie Neita-Headley, minister with responsibility for sports, shares a laugh with NBA legend, Rick Fox, during the launch of the Special Olympics Court in Kingston on Thursday. Looking on are chief executive officer of the Digicel Jamaica Foundation, Samantha Chantrelle (second left) and Jean Lowrie-Chin (second right) the foundation's chairman.

NBA legend, Rick Fox, officially opened a Digicel Jamaica Foundation-funded Special Olympics Basketball Court and sports complex - the first of its kind to be built in Jamaica - at a ceremony held on site at the National Arena on Thursday.

Fox was joined by Natalie Neita-Headley, minister with responsibility for sports, members of the Jamaica Special Olympics Community including president Lorna Bell, as well as the Digicel Jamaica Foundation team led by its chairperson, Jean Lowrie-Chin.

The multi-purpose court and bocce training facility was built thanks to an investment made by the Digicel Foundation, in partnership with the Government of Jamaica, Independence Park Limited, and National Basketball Association. The new court forms part of the Digicel Foundation's overall efforts to improve sports development for thousands of people with intellectual disabilities. Most importantly, the Jamaica Special Olympics team will now have a facility where they can train and prepare for the upcoming 2015 World Summer Special Olympics Games to be held in Los Angeles.

"We are proud of our Special Olympians who continue to forge ahead by breaking down barriers and reminding the world that there is no need to focus on their disabilities, rather it is about focusing on their tremendous abilities and the passion with which they take on the world," said Minister Neita Headley.

NBA Cares, the league's global social responsibility programme, partnered with the Digicel Foundation to make this court a reality through its donation of equipment and court fixtures such as the basketball hoops and nets.

 

'thrilled'

 

"We are thrilled to work with the Digicel Foundation and continue the NBA family's global support of Special Olympics," Fox said. "Basketball is a game for people of all ages that

promotes inclusion and respect, and we are excited to be part

of this amazing new sports training facility for the Jamaican community."

Executive director of Special Olympics Jamaica Lorna Bell said the court is the best thing to have happened to Special Olympics in Jamaica.

Digicel Foundation chairperson Jean Lowrie-Chin said: "Digicel has long celebrated the extraordinary achievements of Special Olympics athletes. Since 2004, Digicel has been the largest sponsor of Special Olympics in the region and in Jamaica, we have shown our support of the Special Olympics team here.