The month of July was a busy month for Jamaica Awareness Association of California (JAAC) in Southern California. The Association made itself available as quintessential host to many Jamaicans traveling to the California area for the Special Olympics and other events.
The Special Olympics opened July 25, 2015 and many Jamaican athletes, parents and chaperones swarmed the Los Angles area. Several members of the JAAC found out early that the team was being hosted by the city of Inglewood and immediately jumped into action by making plans to co-host them.
The members, wanting to assure the athletes were well represented, attended the opening day parade and later cheered the athletes on in events held on the opening weekend, July 25-26. In the coming days, the athletes were hosted for dinner by the JAAC team on Tuesday July 28 on the campus of the University of Southern California (USC). During dinner, Mrs. Lorna Bell, Executive Director for Special Olympics Jamaica (SOJ), expressed gratitude on behalf of the team for the support displayed by JAAC. Also in attendance were special guests Mr. Ali McNab, a famous football standout from Jamaica and Captain Peter Whittingham, a Jamaican, and prominent Captain of the Los Angeles Police Department. Both gentlemen provided inspiring and encouraging pep talks to the athletes.
The Special Olympic games ended on August 2, 2015 and Jamaican athletes went home with a total of 29 medals.
Hosting is not uncommon for the members of the Association, as just a week prior (July 12-19), they hosted five teachers who traveled to Loma Linda University to learn teaching techniques with the use of iPads to teach STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics). The teachers were treated to dinner at the home of the Executive Vice President, Ms Yasmin Facey, and were then taken on tours of Los Angeles, Beverly Hills and the streets of Hollywood. The highlight and excitement of the Hollywood tour was the visit to the star dedicated to Bob Marley on the”Walk of Fame” located at 7080 Hollywood Blvd.
Dr. Mark Nicely, Senior Secretary, Member Services of the Jamaica Teachers Association accompanied the teachers on the trip as an observer. The five day program for the teachers is an ongoing collaborative initiative between the Jamaica Diaspora Education Task Force, the Jamaica Teachers Association and Loma Linda University in California. This was the second batch of teachers to benefit from this joint effort as five other teachers visited California in the summer of 2014.
The teachers returned to Jamaica with renewed energy for teaching and memories of fun-filled experiences facilitated by new found friends from Los Angeles.
Kudos to JAAC whose members are always ready to serve whether in the USA or on the rock of Jamaica. Well done!