Our recent trip to the Caribbean Christian Centre for the Deaf (CCCD) in Montego Bay, Jamaica was a rewarding journey. Our travels started with a tour by the Vice Principal the day before the clinic. The campus was breathtaking, placed atop a green hill overlooking the city and ocean the indoor non air-conditioned concrete gymnasium/meeting hall in 60% humidity, was of no distraction. We visited each classroom and were excited to meet the Jamaican deaf students as were they to meet us and looking forward to their day tomorrow. The kids communicate in both ASL & JSL and many of the students come from Signed English backgrounds with Creole or English spoken in the home. This made the clinic instruction easier.
The morning of, the students started showing up in flip-flops or a soccer cleat, that’s when we realized that basketball wasn’t a practice there but a playground activity. Our day started with 32 participants stretching out on their football (soccer) field and warming up with ply metrics. Inside we taught them different basketball fundamental drills such as ball handling, dribbling, and passing. After the drills, lunch was provided and this was an opportunity for us to get to know the students. We found that the deaf in Jamaica have limited resources to interpreters, education and government assistance. Many of the older students fear for their future because they know that when they graduate they more than likely would return to their families with no chance of finding jobs or furthering their education. Many of the younger students had hopes of coming to America and were in awe of the Deaf coaches at the clinic.
After lunch we headed back to the gym to continue drills and put their skills to work with games and activities. Boy can these kids dance! When they would stand in line for their turn they would start dancing so we had the kids show us some local dance moves, some with a Michael Jackson twist! We wrapped up with a DVD of our yearly basketball camp and a motivational talk about being positive and persistent with your goals in life. Our mission is to travel different countries to inspire deaf youth and their communities through basketball.
We want to thank those who contributed to our efforts this year: Pima Community College, Purple communications, Pueblo Optimist Club, and the SW Deaf Optimist Club. With them we were able to donate a new webcam for the school's computer lab, school supplies and ASL materials. We also want to thank our staff for their hard work as role models, and to the school for opening their campus to us. Our experience in Jamaica has created so many ideas and with help from our own deaf community we were able to accomplish the ultimate goal of Arizona DesertFire... Leadership, on and off the court.
Staff participated and conducted the clinic: