Taking the usual fun and excitement from the streets of Downtown Kingston into the online space, the annual Digicel 5K Run for Special Needs is going virtual this year to attract an even wider global audience of participants. This innovative approach will ensure that the Foundation is able to continue its annual tradition of raising funds for Jamaica’s Special Needs community, while helping persons to keep fit while maintaining social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic. The virtual race will allow everyone - near or far - to compete in the 5K anytime, anywhere, from October 1-31. Local participants can register for a fee of J$1,500. Persons overseas pay only US$20 to sign-up. They can choose to complete the 5K distance individually, in groups, on a treadmill at home, in the gym, on a running track or at their usual running/jogging route. Participants will receive virtual bibs, be able to track their performance and submit their times online. They’ll also receive a commemorative certificate and other cool digital prizes, simply for working up a sweat in aid of Jamaica’s Special Needs charities. “We’re taking the Jamaican Special Needs community to the world by going virtual,” said Charmaine Daniels, Chief Executive Officer of the Digicel Jamaica Foundation. “For the past nine years, local participants have been helping us to create a world where no one gets left behind by signing up for our 5K. This year, we are reaching out to Jamaicans around the world, and anyone who loves a challenge to get involved and help our friends in the special needs community to reach their full potential.” The Digicel 5K Virtual Run will incorporate mobile applications such as the My Digicel App, BiP, and D’Music to bring the Virtual 5K to life for participants. “Our virtual 5K proves that, despite the pandemic, everyone can participate in an event that will directly benefit our Special Needs community,” said Allison Philbert, CEO of Digicel Jamaica. “We’re using the power of our digital platforms to make it happen, and to bring everyone together as we continue to promote continued physical activity during these trying times.” Since 2012, the Digicel Foundation has raised J$61.5 million (US$425,000) locally. The funds have also been used to pay for professional services, including therapy and to support skills training programmes. Now virtual, with a wider reach to participants, the organisers are aiming to raise JM$10 million (US$70,000) for five Special Needs organisations in Jamaica. These institutions can now apply for funding at digiceljamaicafoundation.com by September 30. Successful beneficiaries will be announced during the first week of October. Registration for the Digicel 5K Virtual Run is now open on RunningEventsJA.com. Persons can also donate by sending a text with the message, “I Can for Special Needs” to (876)444-2498, for J$50 per text. Magna Rewards Jamaica customers can also redeem their points for donation to the Digicel Foundation by visiting the Magna website. Additional donations will also be accepted at Paymaster Jamaica branches and internationally via Paymaster-Online.com.
Setting up distance learning for students who were forced out of school by the coronavirus pandemic is a challenge, but it's even more of a challenge for educators to figure out how to facilitate access for students with disabilities. The Digicel Foundation is aiming to ease that burden through a donation of 1,000 tablets to the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information (MOEYI), and the Ministry of Labour and Social Security (MLSS). During a handover on Thursday, June 4 at the Digicel Global Headquarters, CEO Charmaine Daniels explained that they are focused on enabling students with disabilities. “We engaged both Ministry’s to enable our students with disabilities to better access distance learning. These tablets all feature the text-to-speech and captions on-screen features which we hope will assist our Blind and Deaf students,” said Daniels. The tablets are also light-weight for those who struggle with arm strength. Wenise Davis, Chief Commercial Officer at Digicel, also spoke to the partnership. “Each of the tablets is equipped with sim cards that come with 1-year of free data. This is to ensure that each special needs student who receives a tablet will have access to the internet. We want each student to know that Digicel is there with them as their digital lifestyle partner.” The Digicel Foundation is Jamaica’s largest corporate donor for Special Needs. The organisation has invested over US$9.5 Million in Special Needs since its inception in 2004. “Over the years, the Digicel Foundation has really taken on disabilities as its mission,” said Collette Risden, Permanent Secretary in the MLSS. “I want to thank the Digicel Foundation for their continued support to the sector.” The Digicel Foundation has partnered with the MLSS in the past to build Special Needs schools and support persons with Special Needs in a variety of ways. Digicel and its Foundation have also been a long time partner of the MOEYI. “At every point when we call on Digicel, Digicel has always responded,” said Minister Alando Terrelonge, referencing the quick response of the telecommunications agency when there was a need to offer zero-rated access to educational sites. The minister highlighted the importance of digital and online access as a basic human right, with great emphasis on the need for internet access for all students. Over 1,000 students have already reached out to the Jamaica Council for Persons with Disabilities to receive assistance. Daniels has committed to future partnerships. “We’ll continue to support both ministry’s as we help to create a world where no one gets left behind.”