My daughter Lizzie has discovered a new favorite sport: basketball. She has been attending Hoops for Joy, a series of adaptive basketball clinics at Ohio University. The kids are grouped by age, and rotate through stations where they work on skills like dribbling and shooting with the help of student volunteers. As she says, “It’s great!”
While Lizzie loves playing basketball, especially shooting, she has been excited to see and cheer on the other kids. She has even gotten to play with her best friend from preschool, who goes to school in another town. Tony Moos, vice president of OU’s Student Council for Exceptional Children, which runs Hoops for Joy, is very excited by the program’s results:
One of my things I enjoy more than the students developing more motor skills is them coming out of their shells. Campers who didn’t talk or were scared on their first day, now come throw their stuff down and start shooting. Kids have developed friendships with campers from other schools and develop more skills in regards to social interaction.
Tony came up with the idea for Hoops for Joy after he volunteered for another campus group’s adaptive recreation program. When home in Lancaster last summer, he says he noticed
different activities for people with special needs in our newspaper. When I saw this I started to think about Athens County and came to the realization that there is not a lot of different activities for youth with disabilities and their families, in regards to recreation.
The clinics started last fall with just two kids, but will have at least thirty-five for the next two sessions. SCEC decided to make the clinics inclusive of typically-developing siblings for spring semester to make it easier for families to participate. Campers come from all over southeast Ohio, and have a variety of disabilities. The program is free, thanks to SCEC and other student groups donating their time allotments at the Ping Center, and funding through the Student Senate. Student volunteers come from both SCEC and the Physical Therapy Club, and more and more volunteer each week.
Tony has visited the wheelchair basketball program at Ohio State University, where he learned about making adaptations for children using wheelchairs. Adaptations for other campers are planned based on their individual disabilities and his past experiences in adaptive recreation, and are refined as needed. They also had hoped to have an adaptive basketball tournament with a program from OSU this year, but unfortunately budget cuts to OSU’s adaptive recreation department will not permit it. They hope to start it next year, possibly with the involvement of other schools, and have it become an annual event. For this year’s last two clinics, they plan to have a game at the end with some selected students from Alexander High School, where Tony is a student teacher.
While Tony is graduating this spring, another OU student volunteer, Jordan Masker, intends to keep the program going. Jordan is a freshman from Maryland, and she has experience working with the Special Olympics there. Tony also hopes to find a job in the area, which would allow him to help out as needed.
The next Hoops for Joy clinic is this coming Saturday, March 15th, from 12:00 – 1:30 at the Ping Center at Ohio University, near the stadium. The clinic is free, and there is free parking in the lot in front of Ping. If you are interested in participating, please email Tony Moos at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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