The Office of the Governor and the Office of Grants Management and State Clearinghouse are collaborating to jumpstart the CNMI’s first Disability Sports Festival for athletes from Saipan, Tinian, and Rota.
The event will be held in partnership with the Lady Diann Torres Foundation, the Council on Developmental Disabilities, Center for Living Independently, Voices of the CNMI, Northern Marianas Protection and Advocacy Systems, Inc. (NMPASI), the Northern Marianas College University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities, the Commonwealth Healthcare Corporation Division of Public Health Services, Ayuda Network, Community Guidance Center, Rotary Club of Saipan, Office of Youth Affairs, the Division of Youth Services, and the Public School System.
OGM administrator Epi Cabrera, Jr. shared that the CNMI Disability Sports Festival will be funded through a $70,000 sub-grant under the Office of the Governor to provide sporting opportunities to 15 participants from Tinian and Rota each and 40 eligible participants from Saipan.
“This is a large collaborative undertaking to celebrate and bring together and highlight developmental disabilities and the diversity that exists in our community. I met with Nick Gross who serves as the athletics program director at the Public School System and informed him of the funding opportunity to bring this event to the community, especially as the Lady Diann Torres Foundation had approached our office with the project idea a year ago,” Cabrera said.
Recollecting her years as an educator, Diann Torres expressed that students with disabilities are often forgotten after they leave the education system.
“I reached out to the agencies who have been there from the beginning and have championed the rights of our brothers and sisters with disabilities. We’ve come together to create awareness and to celebrate our diversity. This is just one of many initiatives and along with the vision of a One-Stop Disability Center, we can improve upon and align the initiatives of all disability partners and stakeholders,” Diann Torres said.
Gross expressed his excitement for the project.
“I am enthusiastic with the whole project, especially as the planning and implementation of a Paralympic / special Olympic type of event is underway and pegged for this July 2018,” Gross said.
“Working closely with NMPASI, we produced a proposal for the event and have been very excited by the overwhelming support of collaborating agencies to make this a reality. Overall, this will serve as a goodwill participatory celebration focusing on adaptive sports. This event will serve as an awareness campaign to identify sustainable funding to ensure this event continues on an annual basis,” Gross added.
Governor Ralph DLG. Torres expressed that from years of discussing disabilities and addressing needs, he commended the disability network for coming together to bridge a gap and fulfill something that has not been done before in the Commonwealth.
For more information about joining the Disability Sports Fest, please contact Jim Rayphand at NMPASI at 235-7273. (PR)