On November 2nd and 3rd, four wheelchair basketball events took place in the Greater Boston area. Within 24 hours, any person of any age or gender could participate in one of these games. These events were hosted by Spaulding Adaptive Sports Centers at the South Shore YMCA Quincy, the New England Blazers, UMass Boston, and South Boston Boys and Girls Club. Whether competitive or introductory in nature, these events allowed the opportunity for individuals to express themselves through team sport.
On November 3rd, the South Boston Boys and Girls Club hosted an Inter-club Wheelchair Basketball Jamboree. This competition was held between middle school and high school students from the the South Boston, Charlestown, and Chelsea Boys and Girls Clubs.
Theo is 12 years old and has been playing with the Boys and Girls Club for three years. While Theo does play other sports during the off season, basketball is his passion. He says the game involves a love of teamwork and is “fun, but still competitive.” The team does drills and scrimmages at the end of practice, which helps them develop technique.
Theo’s mother, Jean, drives an hour every week to the program. While the time commitment is big, Jean sees a future for Theo with basketball, possibly playing at the college level. “When you have a child that is disabled, finding athletic opportunities is so important,” says Jean. “The risk to childhood obesity is higher.” Jean loves the Boys and Girls Club program because the learning experience is great even though there are no other daily wheelchair users there. “Instead of Theo having to adapt, here everyone else adapts. Plus, it is an enriching and fun sport.”
The wheelchair basketball program is open to kids with and without disabilities at the Boys and Girls Clubs. Mark Mayo is a senior in high school and a part of the Charlestown Boys and Girls Club. Mark started playing last week. For Mark, playing the game is fun and a learning experience. “It is a great opportunity to play with kids in wheelchairs and I have made a lot of friends within the program,” he says. Mark also says he has gained an appreciation for these kids, and that is the best part of it.
While the South Boston Boys and Girls club was playing competitively, the Spaulding Adaptive Sports Center at the South Shore YMCA Quincy hosted an introductory game of wheelchair basketball for people of all ages.
Jim learned about South Shore YMCA Quincy where he was looking for a program after playing at the Carling School for two decades. While Jim has had a lot of experience playing wheelchair basketball, the program at the YMCA has taught him a lot about discipline. “We play by the rules here, it has taught me when to make a dribble, pass and shoot.”
Megan is another player at the South Shore YMCA Quincy. Megan started playing with Adaptive Sports about a month ago and her experience has been great. Megan lives near the facility, so when she heard about the wheelchair basketball program, “it was a no brainer,” she said, “I was really excited.” For Megan, the best part of playing with Adaptive Sports is being included in physical activity again. “I grew up with physical activity and adaptive sports opportunities through the specialized school I went to,” says Megan; “to find it out in the community is awesome.”
Spaulding Adaptive Sports Centers also supported UMass Boston Recreation for its first wheelchair basketball program for students, faculty, and staff. This program is open to players with and without visual or mobility impairments. Play is during open gym time each Thursday this November.
This blog post was created by PRLab at Boston University for Adaptive Sports New England