Gov’t Announces ‘Jamaica 55’ Legacy Projects

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A report by Alecia Smith for the Jamaica Information Service.

Jamaica’s elite athletes will soon no longer need to travel outside of the country to receive the best treatment for injuries and other ailments.

This, as the Government plans to set up a Caribbean Sports Medicine Centre on the Mona Campus of the University of the West Indies (UWI).

To be established in collaboration with UWI and sprinting sensation Usain Bolt and his team, the centre is one of the legacy projects being undertaken as part of the year-long ‘Jamaica 55’ Independence celebrations.

The projects and other commemorative activities were unveiled during the media launch of Jamaica 55 on the lawns of Jamaica House on Wednesday (April 5).

Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Andrew Holness, in his address said the Legacy Projects programme is a key component of Jamaica 55, “which signifies that we are committed to leaving a legacy, building a stronger nation”.

He noted that the “ambitious projects” identified include significant improvements of infrastructure in sports, entertainment and culture, education, gender relations and public administration.

“The value to be gained from them will last for many generations. The chosen projects are strategically aligned to our areas of national priority,” he said.

The Prime Minister noted that the celebration of the country’s emerald anniversary provides an opportunity for Jamaicans at home and in the diaspora to reaffirm their pride in and commitment to national development and the achievement of a prosperous Jamaica.

“With a positive outlook, we are assiduously carving out and building the Jamaican spirit, vision and ethos for our secured future. We look forward to great involvement in our legacy projects through Jamaica 55 and beyond,” he said.

Minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport, Hon. Olivia Grange, in providing details on some of the legacy projects, noted that they have been created to ensure that “these celebrations have a lasting legacy for generations to come”.

Ms. Grange informed that a virtual sports museum, which will trace and showcase Jamaica’s performance in sports, is expected to be completed during the period.

This is to be followed by the establishment of a physical sports museum at the Independence Park Complex at the National Stadium.

In addition, Ms. Grange informed that the Trelawny Stadium is to be redeveloped to become the centre of sports tourism. This will be done in collaboration with the private sector and overseas companies.

Mini stadia will also be created at the Goodyear Oval in St. Thomas; Drax Hall, St. Ann; Portmore, St. Catherine; and the Herb McKenley Stadium in Clarendon. At least one of the stadia is to be completed during the Jamaica 55 celebration period.

Another of the projects is the commissioning of four statues in honour of outstanding Olympians. They are Usain Bolt, whose statue is to be erected by the end of September 2017; Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, by the end of December 2017; and Veronica Campbell-Brown and Asafa Powell, whose statues are to be erected in 2018.

Schools are expected to be renamed in honour of some athletes as well.

Additionally, a plan is to be developed for the establishment of a national shelter for women in the Corporate Area, and three satellite shelters in rural Jamaica. One shelter is expected to be established during the Jamaica 55 period.

Secondary schools sports infrastructures are also expected to be upgraded, one of which is the design and construction of the Stafanie Taylor Oval at Eltham High School in St. Catherine, in recognition of her achievement as the first woman to lead a regional team to a world title.

Also as part of the legacy programme, there will be the Jamaica 55 Prime Minister’s Awards for Excellence to be presented to people who have not been conferred with a National Award.

Awards will be presented for excellence in industry, entrepreneurship and commerce; sporting excellence (sportsmen, coaches and administrators); culture and entertainment; and community development.

Other highlights of the Jamaica 55 celebrations will include the Diaspora Conference from July 23 to 26; Emancipation Jubilee on July 31; Augus’ Mawnin’ Market and Picknifest on August 1; Independence Grand Gala on August 6; and Kingston and St. Andrew Homecoming Week 2017.

Jamaica 55 activities are being held under the theme ‘Celebrating Jamaicans at Home and Abroad’.

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