The Government of Dominica through The Minister for Sports, Culture and Community Development, signaled its continued commitment to supporting the aspirations of athletes with intellectual disabilities by signing the October 2021 Special Olympics Caribbean Sports Ministers Forum Declaration.

A small signing ceremony was held on Friday, November 19, 2021 after being approved by the Government of Dominica.

Minister for Youth Development and Empowerment, Youth at Risk, Gender Affairs, Seniors' Security and Dominicans with Disabilities Hon. Adis King stated that this declaration will provide opportunities for those with intellectual disabilities to share their talents with the world.

“We are aware that Governments are constantly exploring innovative ways to empower our citizens. Special Olympics is helping us to use sports to empower and protect individuals with disabilities and to enhance their health and well-being. Special Olympics helps special athletes develop as individuals and feel equaled and valued. Special Olympics provide continuing opportunities to develop physical fitness, demonstrate courage, experience joy, and participate in sharing of talents, skills and friendship with the world,” Hon. King stated.

The Resolutions of the Declaration focuses on ensuring full inclusion of athletes with intellectual disabilities in community sports structures, facilitating the provision of Special Olympics training for coaches and officials in national sports federations, supporting national Special Olympics organizations to hold annual competition events, enabling Special Olympic athletes to participate in international competitions, encouraging National Olympics and Paralympic Committees to support their fellow athletes with intellectual disabilities and promoting through public relations and advocacy campaigns, the rights and accomplishments of athletes with intellectual disabilities. 

Minister for Sports, Culture and Community Development, Hon Roselyn Paul stated that not only will this declaration assist with achieving the rights of People with Disabilities, but it will also aid in achieving Dominica’s SDGs.

“This declaration, the Special Olympics Caribbean Declaration, seeks to formalize our support to the aspirations of athletes with intellectual disabilities in the Caribbean. In so doing a resolution is proposed to create a regional coalition of Government leaders who will work with Special Olympic athlete leaders to use sports as a platform to contribute to the full achievement of the Convention of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and the Sustainable Development Goals,” Hon. Paul explained.

The Sports Minister noted that this declaration is another aspect in a decades long partnership between the Government and the DAPD as Government seeks to improve the lives of the vulnerable in our society.

“The intended awareness and better understanding of the marginalization faced by persons with intellectual disabilities which this declaration seeks to propagate has been long understood and embraced here in Dominica, and in particular  by the Government of Dominica, this Labour Party Administration. In fact over the last two decades there has been strengthened strategic partnership between the Government and the Dominica Association of Persons with Disabilities, incrementally contributing to the Convention of the Rights of People with Disabilities,” Hon. Paul went on to say.

Executive Director of the Dominica Association of Persons with Disabilities, Mrs. Nathalie Murphy noted that this declaration will assist in developing the lives of persons with disabilities.

 “I want to congratulate the Government of Dominica on this real great initiative by signing this declaration which can only bring development, and continued advancement for persons with disabilities as we promote their full and active participation in their social life and national development,’ Mrs. Murphy stated.

Global Representative for Special Olympics, Meghan Hussey also commended the Government for adopting the declaration noting that sports can be used as a platform to create inclusive communities.

“I want to commend the country of Dominica for this extremely strong public declaring of your commitment to the rights of persons with disabilities and in particular your partnership with the Special Olympics Movement in using sports as a platform not only as a realization of the human rights of persons with disabilities and the particular power that participation in sports has for their personal development, but using sport as a powerful platform to realize their full inclusion in social development and creating societies and communities that are inclusive of all,” Ms. Hussey added.

It is expected that support for the resolutions will lead to witness of a world where athletes with intellectual disabilities are included and can harness the benefits of inclusive sport participation as a platform for human rights and sustainable development for all.