New look for Potta

woodwork shop and blind team up to give fresh life to old bajan game

by Latoya Burnham

For the first time last weekend, Harwood Woodworks featured a popular “ole time game with a difference”, in that it is targeted to the blind and visually impaired community.

And now a member of that community is enthused with the possibility of adding Potta to the annual challenge games of the Barbados Council for the Disabled.

Granville Carter, who had a hand in the designing of the game and whose suggestion it was that the creators of the game add magnets to help hold the pieces in place, said he had found Potta stimulating and was grateful for their consideration in its creation.

“I am aware of the game because I played when I was a little boy. The only new thing is that a more decent board has been designed for it and what I like about it is that it is very accessible for blind and visually impaired persons.

“I saw the design of the board, because I visited Harwood in Pelican and when I went there I played with him and won the game and then I recognise because I could not see, I had to be feeling across the board to see where the pieces are and I kept knocking them down all the time. So I made a recommendation to him, to put magnets at the bottom and that is how that came about,” he said.

As a result he said persons with any kind of visual impairment could learn and play without fear of disrupting the game in progress.

“I think it is a fantastic game and it could become very challenging because it is not just a game for the eyes, it is also a thinking game… I played yesterday and we were there for more than half-hour and had to end up aborting the game because nobody would win.

“I think too that more children should play. It would help them to develop their minds, think better and I feel they need to publicise it more,” he said.

Carter said too that he believed the creation of the game for the visually impaired and blind, could help revive it in the island.

“I am very excited about it because we have plans for the game. Actually the Barbados Council for the Disabled every year has a domino competition among the groups so I am going to make the recommendation that we expand it to include Potta,” he said.

Rosalind Thomas of Harwood Woodworks said the history of potta revealed that it was almost 100 years old in Barbados, and the Pelican Craft Village-based company had created boards to help with the revival of the game two years ago.

They brought the game to BMEX that year, she said, and a client suggested creating one for others with disabilities as a natural progression and therefore the company got the Council involved in the process.

Harwood Woodworks then crafted pieces out of wood with different designs on the top to differentiate the different coloured pieces that the visually impaired would not see, and then invited persons from the blind community to play ahead of the BMEX unveiling.

“They were able to come here to BMEX, Saturday and today and play all afternoon on both days. So they tested it and realised it was something they could work with. So we are happy with that,” said Thomas.

With the addition of the magnets, Thomas said they had created a game that was perfect not only for the disabled community, but which could be used by children as well or as entertainment while travelling on long plane or car trips, since the pieces would be difficult to lose. (LB)

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