In Haiti, disability is more than just a physical handicap. It is socio-economic handicap - a sentence to a life of hardship and separation from mainstream society. The common Creole word used to describe a disabled person is “cocobai,” which loosely translates to “worthless.” The Sports Center on the Baptist Convention of Haiti Hospital campus provides an atmosphere of inclusivity, where both able-bodied and handicapped athletes can lift weights, train on the cardio machines, shoot hoops, and play tennis and ping pong together. With more than 280 members since opening in January 2013, the Sports Center continues to grow. It currently offers members a variety of sports classes taught by the knowledgeable staff, and the offerings continue to expand each month. Basketball mini-camps and a summer league are scheduled to begin soon for both able-bodied and handicapped patrons. The inclusion of all athletes, regardless of physical ability, is the main goal of the Sports Center, and the staff continually witnesses able-bodied patrons’ perceptions of disability changing. The Sports Center is tearing down the walls that segregate handicapped Haitians from the rest of society.
All of us at THHT thank you for your continued giving. You are a vital component of our mission to empower Haitians living with disabilities!
In January 2013, the Inclusive Sports Center was inaugurated, on the Haitian Baptist Convention Hospital Center campus. The Center serves both patients and the general public, with the purpose of bringing together those living with a disability and other members of the community. It is a space where stereotypes are shattered and individuals learn that disability is not inability. Filled with new equipment and open 6 days a week, the gym is always packed, as many come to exercise before or after work. Several paraplegic athletes, as well as one physical fitness advisor, staff the gym and provide personal training for all current members. The center also includes a basketball court where disabled and fully-abled teams compete and practice weekly."I didn't believe the disabled were capable of doing much," remarked a recent gym member, "but after coming to this center I completely changed my opinion - these men and women are strong and talented." With over 75 new members, the Sports Centre is steadily growing and striving to create outstanding programs that serve northern Haiti.
Please visit: www.haitihealthtrust.org to find more updates and learn how you can be a part of this community-building initiative.
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