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Visually impaired contestant makes Festival Queen history

Published:Tuesday | May 9, 2017 | 12:00 AMShereita Grizzle

The Jamaica Festival Queen Competition will celebrate its 54th anniversary this year and for the first time in the competition's history, a visually-impaired young woman will be among the contestants.

Twenty-five-year-old Samoya Jordon told The Gleaner that she was aware that while there were visually impaired persons participating in other JCDC competitions, she knew of none who had participated in the Festival Queen competition and so, she wanted to not only challenge herself, but become a part of history.

"I knew no one like me had ever done it before and so I decided to rise to the occasion to show people like myself that we have no limitations and we are just as able to accomplish our dreams as anyone else," she told The Gleaner. "I am happy that I decided to start this journey. I love my culture and I love to get involved. I honestly don't know what will happen on the final night, but I'm happy that I challenged myself."

The Miss Kingston and St Andrew Festival Queen will be decided on Saturday at the grand coronation show to be held at the Ranny Williams Entertainment Centre in St Andrew. This year's competition will be held under the theme: 'Celebrating The Jamaican Woman'. The event is organised by the JCDC, an agency of the Ministry of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport.

Director of marketing and public relations, JCDC, Stephen Davidson, told The Gleaner that the organisation is happy to have Jordon as part of this year's competition.

"We try as best as possible to include everyone. We have a very vibrant deaf dance programme and we have had visually impaired entrants in our song competitions," he said.

Paulette Sutherland, parish manager of JCDC Kingston and St Andrew Parish Office, shared similar sentiments.

"We are all excited to have her in the competition. The women have been really accommodating and encouraging.

Samoya is a great young woman and regardless of what happens on Saturday night, her presence in the competition added life and a lot of energy."

There are eight contestants competing for this year's prestigious title of Miss Kingston and St Andrew Festival Queen. The winner will then vie for the Miss Jamaica Festival Queen title at the national level, as a cultural ambassador for Jamaica.