Sounds of laughter amidst applause and cheers. Just what you'd expect to hear at a youth sports activity--but not always what you'd expect to find in a special needs sports program. My heart soars with joy each and every week we are here.
We started with the Marlton Sports Unity Program (SUP) for winter basketball. Z didn't really want to try basketball but after finding out some of his Lenape "boys" were basketball players he agreed to at least try. He wouldn't smile at check in and hung back just a bit once inside the gym, but not more than 5 minutes in a couple of the adult buddies had him out on the court and playing.
|Getting his trophy from the VERY special|
and awesome Coach Dave
|Coach Scott getting in on the action to show Z technique,|
with buddy Karly right by his side.
|Coach Scott giving loads of one on one tips|
for the Javelin throw
|Z keeps working hard for Coach Scott, and his|
awesome buddy Lindsey.
|Obstacle course running|
|High fives after javelin work ;)|
The buddies with SUP must attend a training session where they are educated about things they may experience with the special needs kids and how to address many different potential problems (redirect, soothe, comfort, or even disengage WITH their player from the activity, among many others). They are also told they will not have cell phones out, will not be seen inactive or without their player, and WILL not be tolerated if seen laughing at/about a player. The training shows. These kids, each and every one a volunteer, show more compassion, acceptance, and enthusiasm than many paid adults I've experienced in the special needs fields!
Mark VonBerg began and runs the Marlton Sports Unity Program which includes the activities of soccer, track, basketball, karate, cheerleading, and soon introducing street hockey. Did I mention every program run through Sports Unity Program is FREE? Thanks doesn't begin to cover it but I'll say it anyway,