Salada Foods Jamaica, through its Jamaica Mountain Peak brand, recently joined forces with Deaf Can! Coffee in a strong show of support for the Jamaica Association of the Deaf (JAD).

The JAD and its programmes were at the forefront, as they were one of two charity partners selected for the 2019 Father’s Day edition of the Everyone’s A Winner Best Dressed Chicken 10K, 5K & 3K event held at Hope Gardens.

According to Tamii Brown, Salada Foods Jamaica commercial and corporate affairs manager, the partnership with Deaf Can! Coffee was an extension of Salada’s commitment to rise up and support Jamaica.

“The [deaf] community is an integral part of who we are as a society – with all of our unique facets, we are at the core – Jamaicans,” highlighted Brown. “It is important that each member of Jamaican society is not only not marginalised, but better yet, empowered. What Deaf Can! has done is exactly that, they have broken down any perceived barriers of abilities and said “Look at us — we can”.”

Under the Jamaica Mountain Peak booth, Deaf Can! Coffee – represented by co-founder Blake Widmer with baristas Wadia Barnes and Javannie Dawes — offered crowd-pleasing Jamaica Mountain Peak Nitro Cold Coffee brews.

“As the hot beverage sponsor for this event, Running Events co-founders connected us with Deaf Can! knowing that our energies and mindsets would be well-aligned. And today, we have definitely shown that together we all can include and empower. It was truly a pleasure to work alongside the very capable Deaf Can! team. We are honoured to have the capacity to rise up and support our coffee family in this unique format,” Brown said before alluding to more collaborations in the future.

Deaf Can! Coffee is a social enterprise that started when a group of deaf teen boys from Caribbean Christian Centre in Kingston went on a field trip to meet a deaf coffee farmer in Top Hill, St. Elizabeth. According to co-founder Blake Widmer, it only took that spark.

“We didn’t have the desire to have a business, but we wanted our youth to have confidence in themselves,” Widmer explained. “Most people define a deaf person by what they can’t do… the youth internalise that. They grow up feeling like “oh, I am deaf, I can’t do anything.”

“We said no, we have to change that perspective. The trip to St Elizabeth to meet Evelyn Clarke showcased his passion for coffee, his pride in being a farmer, his confidence in being a deaf person. His family and his business inspired our youth to want to be like him, to want to roast coffee. So, for fun we started roasting coffee here at the school in Kingston. And, then we started a coffee shop,” Widmer shared.

The over 1,900 road-race practitioners and enthusiasts who came out in support of the Jamaica Association of the Deaf and the Diabetes Association of Jamaica, had the opportunity to enjoy Jamaica Mountain Peak Coffee roasted by local manufacturers Salada Foods, which was then brewed by Deaf-Can! Coffee.

Served on tap, infused with nitrogen ⁠— which gives a light yet creamy body ⁠— patrons enjoyed complimentary cups of Jamaica Mountain Peak coffee.

The JAD currently operates eight schools across Jamaica and provides special education as well as vocational training for members of the deaf community. It also manages a hearing clinic and provides social services, which include transitional services and advocacy. It has a training unit that facilitates Jamaican Sign Language and Deaf culture education.

About 70 per cent of the deaf students live in families that fall at, or below, Jamaica’s poverty line.