After a notable absence from the public, Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley finally addressed the issues headlining national discourse over the past few weeks.
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Ince: Giving up, not an option
National swimmer Shanntol Ince yesterday underscored why a well-knit family can overcome all obstacles with her revelation that forces wanted her parents to abandon her because of her disability.
Addressing teenagers on day three at the 15th annual Sport Desk Symposium now taking place at the Cascadia Hotel and Conference Centre, St Ann’s, Port-of-Spain, Ince, 18, broke her silence on the issue.
“My role model is my mother. My mom really inspires me because she grew up without her parents. Right now she’s really just trying to push us… give us the opportunities that she didn’t have; just being there for us and keeping me and supporting me throughout despite people telling her and my dad to put me in a home because of my disability–just keeping me and support me and encouraging me all the way. I really look up to her because of that strength she has and that passion for just helping others,” she said.
Speaking on the topic “Giving Up–Never An Option” at the four-day youth mentorship conference being held with the theme: “It Always Seems Impossible Until It’s Done”, Ince joined a high-powered cast of female speakers that included Miss Universe 1998 Wendy Fitzwilliam and Kwanieze John, former youth ambassador and now Chef de Mission for the Commonwealth Games 2014.
Without knowing it, Ince, the First Citizens Sports Foundation Junior Sportswoman of the Year 2013, continued Daren Ganga’s focus on the role of the family. During his contribution to the conference the day before the former T&T and West Indies cricket captain said his parents inspired him and that extended reach of the Barrackpore community moulding him to become the success he was.
Ince went on to explain that being a victim of verbal and mental abuse almost denied her victory at 2013 Youth Para Pan American Games held in Buenos Aires, Argentina, at which she secured gold in 400-metre freestyle, 100m backstroke, 100m butterfly and 100m freestyle. It was her first junior international event.
She said: “Someone who I thought was for me spoke negatively and said a lot of hurtful things to me prior to the games, and that could have affected me negatively when I went to compete for T&T.
“How I overcame that through knowing who I am in Christ and knowing how I was brought up and having that clear mental picture that they should be proven wrong on all the things that they said about me.”
Asked how she dealt with disappointment, Ince admitted: “I cry a lot. I cry for a day or two and eat a lot of chocolate. Recently I figured out and I have been learning that failure or disappointment happens for a reason. I know that I’m not in control of my life, altogether. God is in control. He knows why it happens. The hard part about going through that period is really accepting it. Once you accept that disappointment, once you accept that this happens for a reason, it’s not the end of the world. And you should use that and learn from it and really look to accomplish something. Surpass that disappointment and do what you have to do to get further!”
In relation to her future goals, Ince was treated to lusty applause about her intent to secure gold at the Para-Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in 2016.
Participants then rose from their seats and formed a chorus to sing happy birthday to Ince who turned 19 today.
She spoke of her ambitions outside of sports and caught the young audience’s attention with news that she had hoped to pursue a career as an orthopaedic surgeon.
Being born with a missing limb, Ince wanted to go into a practice that would explain the cause of her disability.
But her life experiences had changed her trajectory. Becoming an occupational therapist was her new goal. She said it would allow her to develop different tools and ways for persons with a disability to overcome physical challenges.
“I just want to encourage you to see your goal, understand the obstacles, clear you mind of self-doubt and believe that you can do it. Create a positive mental picture, embrace the challenge, stay on track show the world and yourself that you can do it. Sometimes the path we take are long and hard, but remember those are always the ones that lead to the most beautiful views. Challenges come along inevitably. How you respond to them determines who you are deep down inside and everything that you are going to be,” she said.
The four-day leadership symposium hosted by title sponsors the Ministry of Sport and energy company Atlantic ends today with presentations from four-time Olympic and world champion Ato Boldon, Olympic and world swimming champion George Bovell III, Camille Salandy, head of sustainability and corporate communication, Atlantic and Sports Minister Anil Roberts.