BLIND SPOT: Naga SPED athletes Champions fourth year in a row

“At least 11 athletes with disability have participated in the Olympics over the years, beginning with American gymnast George Eyser who won multiple medals in 1904 while competing with a wooden leg, South Korean archer Im Dong Hyun, who has 10 percent vision in his left eye and 20 percent his right, set the first world record of the 2012 Games, helping his team win bronze. Polish table tennis player Natalia Partyka, born without a right hand or forearm, competed in her second consecutive Olympic Games in 2012.” ( Naga City was declared as champion in the Palarong Bicol 2017 Special Events, holding the position for the fourth year in a row now, this year with 16 gold medals mostly in athletics events. Of the 16 Naga City special events athletes, 11 will be competing in the Palarong Pambansa in Antique City; representing Bicol Region. DepEd Naga City Special Events Coordinator Meliton “Dan Celedonio Jr. attributes this consistent victory to a training program that is in the same level with that of regular athletes for the Palarong Pambansa. Sir Dan (as he is referred to by the athletes and colleagues) adds that even at the selection process and training program, the coaches would choose athletes who could endure the physical constraints of the training at the most difficult time of the day, and undergo them in a program with the maximum time; that stamina is developed. To put it another way, athletes with exceptionalities advance to success because at the onset, they are treated as regular athletes preparing for th e national level tournaments, not as children in need of special consideration, who are about to join local games, but they are treated as regular athletes with high expectations. In the process, the main objective of sports programs is achieved – discipline is developed among students. Camille Ciudadano, Camarines Sur National High School Grade 10 student with low vision, shot put gold medalist, attests that participation in the tournaments since her first year in high school has improved her confidence, and developed her skills; that she would encourage other SPED pupils and students to do the same to prove to people that disability is not a deterrent in involvement in sports activities, and that people with disability can also perform as well as regular people. Aside from the event mentioned, Camille was also awarded silver medals for 100 meter run, goal ball and standing long jump. Maricon Bables, Camarines Sur National High School Grade 9 student with total blindness, who has been awarded with three gold medals and one silver medal for Shot put, standing long jump, 100 meter run, and goal ball respectively, echoes similar sentiments in declaring that playing as an athlete in the sports meets has built her self-confidence, gave opportunities of development of friendships, and the chance to travel to different places which entails exposure to new people, new places, new values and memories to cherish. Likewise, she would encourage SPED students to join the palaro to give them a sense of accomplishment, and as a testament before the able-bodied public that persons with disability can achieve in the same way as regular athletes can. As a SPED teacher, I have in numerous times, have personally witnessed the struggles that children with disability wrestle with their own self-esteem, the concept of future personal accomplishments. It is simply painful to be unable to give honest and realistic answers to undeniably legitimate concerns. I have personal reservations with the extensive time with sports trainings and games, opposite academic development. But seeing how athletics has boosted personality and emotional state which were once in doldrums, who am I to stand in argument against a proven highly efficient means of elevation of personal spirits? However, in lieu of purported inclusive education, why did I have a hard time searching the net for news articles on the accomplishments of these local equally skilled athletes? Could it be that despite the achievements, they remain in a blind spot? How many Palarong Bicol spectators know that special events for SPED even exist? “South African sprint runner Oscar Pistorius competes in championships for below-knee amputees and also for able-bodied athletes. Both of his legs below the knee were amputated when he was just 11 months old. He is widely referred as the fastest man on no legs. He won a gold medal and a bronze medal in 2004 Athens Paralympics, 3 gold medals in 2008 Beijing Paralympics and 2 gold medals and a silver medal in 2012 London Paralympics. Pistorius entered in able-bodied international competitions after becoming a Paralympics champion and won the 2011 World Championships in Athletics.” (www.sportsl] “But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind,” Luke 14:13