Each month the government provides group health, life and personal accident insurance coverage for 101 Special Olympics athletes who represent Jamaica at various levels, said Olivia Grange, Minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport.
She was speaking at the press launch of the Special Olympics Unified Champion Schools Initiative held at the Office of the Commissioner of Police yesterday.
Grange said coverage includes doctors’ and specialists’ visits, hospitalization and surgery as well as treatment in the areas of gynaecology/urology, psychiatry, psychology, ophthalmology, dietetics, dental, maternity and miscarriage.
Coverage is also provided in cases for artificial limbs and prosthesis, physiotherapy, orthodontics, speech therapy, foot treatment, chiropractor services, vaccinations, renal dialysis and overseas medical emergency.
The minister said, “We are committed to the health and well-being of all our athletes and taking care of athletes at all levels, beginners or professionals.”
Special Olympics Jamaica also receives a monthly subsidy of $292,400 from the Sports Development Foundation which also provided support of $1.5 million to the team which participated in the Special Olympics USA Games in June 2022.
“As minister, I have always had a profound love and have pledged my unwavering support of Special Olympics Jamaica and that is why I was most pleased when in 2021, I was advised that Jamaica was selected as a pilot country for the Unified Champion School project. ,” she said.
“Special Olympics Unified Sports and now the Unified Champion Schools Initiative embody the idea of Sport for All. It tells us that regardless of one’s perceived abilities or inabilities, playing together allows us to understand each other and build friendships.
“I want to also use this opportunity to applaud all the principals, parents and indeed students of the 11 schools that have been participating in the Unified Champion Schools Initiative: Alligator Pond Primary; Albion Primary School; Bethabra Primary School; Corinaldi Primary School; Horizon Park Primary School; McCauley Primary School; Pepper’s Primary School; St. John’s Primary School; Spanish Town Primary School; Woodlawn School of Special Education and Windsor Special Unit.”
Grange commended the board and directors of Special Olympics Jamaica led by Aldrick ‘Ali’ McNab as well as Lorna Bell, former head of Special Olympics Jamaica, who has now gone on to champion the cause of Special Olympics at the regional level as executive director of Special Olympics Caribbean Initiative.
The minister encouraged principals, students, coaches and parents involved in the program to use lessons learned to spread the positive message of unified sports in the wider communities.
“Let us all challenge ourselves to be more inclusive,” she said.