It’s something these children look forward to all year – and you’re invited to participate. Held annually, the Sunshine Games bring together over 700 differently-abled children from 24 schools across the island. They travel to Colombo to participate in a series of events that test their skill, stamina, and above all their courage. For the spectators there’s plenty of all three on display. Organized by the Rotary Club of Colombo Metropolitan, the event runs with the help of a team of volunteers, that include relatives and friends of the Club’s members.
The games are widely recognized as the largest annual Sports Meet for differently abled and physically challenged children. This year they will be held at the Sports Ministry Grounds, Reid Avenue, Colombo 7 on June 13. This year marks the 10th anniversary of the games and it will span the course of the day with all participants and their accompanying teachers and parents being provided with two free meals, a drink and ice cream.
The numbers add up, so that the Club ends up hosting over a 1000 people. Part of the appeal is the carnival atmosphere, complete with games and gifts. Categories of disabilities of the children who are taking part are, moderate mobility needs, one leg below knee amputees, one or both arms missing or impaired, totally visually impaired, partially visually impaired, hearing and / or speech impaired and special educational needs. The participants are drawn from schools and institutions from all over the country, says organizer Nissanka Chandrasinghe, adding that there are over 144 events held over the course of the day. The Rotary Club traces its involvement in the games for the disabled to 1990, when it first started a sports meet for the differently abled.
The event, known as Aidex, was held in association with the Jaipur Foot organization. Succeeding transformations saw the event reinvented as the National Championships for the Disabled, which was supported by the Ministry of Social Services.
During this period events like wheel chair tennis, wheelchair archery, cycle races and wheelchair marathons had become standard events in addition to the usual field events. When NCD came under the auspices of the government, the Club decided to focus on children exclusively and the Sunshine Games were born. Some club members, PP Ananda Rajapakse, PP Michael Perera and Chandrasinghe were part of the group that founded the first games in 1990 and are still active in the Sunshine games.
The cost of the entire event comes in at Rs. 1.2 Million, but the Club has traditionally been well supported. This year, Ceylon Knit Trend Ltd., Pan Asia Bank, Greenlanka, the Hilton, the Hilton Colombo Residence, Nestle and Norfolk Foods are the main sponsors.