It started with a Special Olympics Football (Soccer) training weekend for the children. Many of the Orange Walk children who participated packed into my van with all their gear for an overnight stay at the British Army base next to the airport. We moved into the barracks and ate in the mess hall. It was the perfect location for us and had a flat field that could fit 4 "pitches". Children in special education from all over Belize attended and there were about 130 children in all, I think. In addition there were volunteers who agreed to be coaches.
It was well organized, too. Andy Aspinall planned the event in conjunction with Special Olympics Belize. We had several rotations where the children did a drill at a station for a few minutes and then rotated to the next one. Everyone was "on the ball" much of the time.
The weather cooperated and we had sun the whole weekend. It was a blessing because the following weekend rained...in fact, it has rained almost everyday since that time.
I welcome the rainy season because the clouds and wind that accompany the rain cools things off a little and helps the garden grow. Fortunately we have not experienced the flooding and mudslides that are nagging our neighbor Guatemala.
The annual Festival of Arts is a nationwide event. St Peters Anglican School sent a dance troupe to the competition. Our Luis was one of the dancers. He loves to dance and he is so good at it. The first part of the competition carried over two nights. We made the first cut so the dancers were asked back for the second night. We got "gold" for our effort. Then on Saturday night we, along with two other Anglican schools, were asked to dance for a conference of Anglican visitors from the US at the Princess Hotel in Belize City. It was an honor and the children did very well.
NaRCIE (Special Education Office in Belize City) hosted an HIV/AIDS awareness workshop for three consecutive Saturdays. They asked me to help with the second two Saturdays. Andre McCool and I acted as "relay interpreters". The woman who led the workshop only knew a few signs so we worked together to figure out what she said and relay it in ASL. We were a good team and it was wonderful to work with Dre. He's a Deaf teacher at the Stella Maris School for the Deaf inBelize City.
Twelve deaf youth and young adults from the Orange Walk area attended. There were about the same number from Belize City and some from Corozal and Stann Creek. The best part of this kind of event is seeing old friends and making new ones. I think we also got the message across. Belize has the highest rate of HIV/AIDS in central America and the third highest in the Caribbean, so we need to grab this bull by the horns and get the word out.