Several Saturdays out of the year, Ship’s Henderson Gymnasium opens its doors to people of all ages and abilities to come together to learn the game of basketball. But Ship’s Inclusive basketball program teaches lessons far beyond a game of pickup. The disability studies department and Circle K, a community service program, organize the event throughout the year and are always looking for volunteers. In Henderson, the gym is split in half with one side focused on teaching skills in shooting, dribbling and passing while the other half is organized for a game of five on five. In one hour, participants are exposed to the importance of teamwork and sportsmanship.
Jeremy Todd Smith plays inclusive basketball at Ship as a participant but quickly made the switch to mentor and volunteer to his teammates. Jeremy, on the autism spectrum himself, knows just how important inclusion can be. “I learn a lot by being around other that aren’t also like me but somewhat like me. It’s a fun experience.”
Services for students with disabilities are pretty accessible but inclusive programs are what’s needed. The inclusive basketball program strives not to turn everyone into professional athletes, but to create equal opportunities for people to learn together. Programs like this are growing across college campuses and continue to bridge the divide for people with disabilities. Together, we can make a difference but remember, Inclusion starts with ‘I’.
For information on inclusive initiatives on campus, follow Ship’s Disability Studies Minor on Facebook.