Torch run shining light
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)