Torch run shin­ing light

Yarrawonga Chronicle - - Front Page - BY EMMA PRIOR

A lot of noise was made down Bel­more Street last Thurs­day as a num­ber of lo­cals took part in the East­ern Re­gional Aware­ness Tour of the Vic­to­ria Po­lice’s Law En­force­ment Torch Run.

Many smil­ing and chant­ing faces made their way down the main street car­ry­ing the ‘Flame of Hope’ torch along­side a spe­cial mes­sage, that peo­ple with in­tel­lec­tual dis­abil­i­ties should be in­cluded and wel­comed.

Peo­ple with an in­tel­lec­tual disability are the most marginalised mem­bers of our com­mu­nity and sport is such an amaz­ing op­por­tu­nity to pro­vide all Aus­tralians with so­cial con­nec­tions and a health­ier life.

This is why the ERAT pro­vides an op­por­tu­nity to share the ‘Flame of Hope’ with com­mu­ni­ties across re­gional Vic­to­ria, with the flame sym­bol­is­ing courage and cel­e­bra­tion of di­ver­sity unit­ing com­mu­ni­ties around the globe.

The Spe­cial Olympics also re­mains as vi­tal to­day as it did when the move­ment was founded 50 years ago.

The Spe­cial Olympics strives to cre­ate a bet­ter world by fos­ter­ing the ac­cep­tance and in­clu­sion of all peo­ple and aims to pro­vide year-round sports train­ing and ath­letic com­pe­ti­tion in a va­ri­ety of Olympic-type sports for chil­dren and adults with in­tel­lec­tual dis­abil­i­ties.

This also gives these peo­ple the op­por­tu­nity to dis­cover new strengths and abil­i­ties, skills and suc­cess as well as de­vel­op­ing phys­i­cal fit­ness, demon­strat­ing courage, ex­pe­ri­enc­ing joy and par­tic­i­pat­ing in a shar­ing of gifts, skills and friend­ship with their fam­i­lies.

Yar­ra­wonga lo­cals Re­nee McCarthy and Rita Greco were just two par­tic­i­pants who were able to carry the torch through their town much to the de­light of in­ter­ested on­look­ers along with friends and fam­ily.

Re­nee car­ried the torch through the mid­sec­tion of Bel­more Street and said it was fan­tas­tic to have the event come through the town.

“It was a re­ally good ex­pe­ri­ence to be a part of and to look at par­tic­i­pat­ing in the Spe­cial Olympics,” Re­nee said.

“A few of the po­lice of­fi­cers and the likes that were also in­volved have never been to the area so it was good for them to ex­pe­ri­ence that too.

“I think it’s fan­tas­tic to be putting the word out there about in­clu­sion and to bring aware­ness to not just the phys­i­cal sports and com­pe­ti­tions but the spe­cial Olympics as well.”

Rita was also ex­tremely hon­oured to be the per­son to carry the torch for the last leg of the torch run as well as light­ing the cal­dron at the end to sym­bol­ise Yar­ra­wonga’s in­volve­ment in spread­ing the word of in­clu­sion for all.

“I felt great, it wasn’t a prob­lem at all car­ry­ing the torch and I had a big smile on my face the whole time,” Rita said.

“We are not any dif­fer­ent to any­body else and we can still do what oth­ers can do es­pe­cially when it comes to sports and com­pet­ing at a cer­tain level.

“It was great that it came through Yar­ra­wonga as it is the flame of hope and it gives you the hope to do things that oth­ers may not think you are able to do or what you your­self may be ques­tion­ing.

“We can still do it, we should be in­cluded and there’s our hope with that flame.”

Co­bram Se­nior Sergeant Dar­ren McGrillen said the lo­cal po­lice force were happy that they could add their sup­port to the im­por­tant com­mu­nity events in Yar­ra­wonga and Co­bram.

“LETR is a lead­ing voice in the Spe­cial Olympics move­ment aim­ing to el­e­vate the dig­nity and value of peo­ple with in­tel­lec­tual dis­abil­i­ties,” Sen Serg McGrillen said.

“There is a strong sig­nif­i­cance in Vic­to­ria Po­lice and more broadly part­ner or­gan­i­sa­tions be­ing in­volved. “Po­lice and part­ner agen­cies have daily con­tact with per­sons with in­tel­lec­tual dis­abil­i­ties and it is im­por­tant their ex­pe­ri­ence is a pos­i­tive one, en­abling per­sons with in­tel­lec­tual dis­abil­i­ties to have con­fi­dence in Vic­to­ria Po­lice.

“LETR aims to break down some of the bar­ri­ers and fears that peo­ple with in­tel­lec­tu­ally dis­abil­i­ties may have about au­thor­ity and po­lice in par­tic­u­lar and the events in Co­bram and Yar­ra­wonga demon­strated the com­mu­ni­ties will­ing­ness to em­brace and sup­port the par­tic­i­pants in their en­deav­ours.”

Rita Greco lights the Spe­cial Olympics cal­dron also known as the “flame of hope” along the Yar­ra­wonga Fore­shore.

Re­nee McCarthy car­ries the torch down Bel­more Street as her coun­ter­parts chant in the back­ground. (photo cour­tesy of LETR Face­book)

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