Unified basketball bringing students together
Inside the gymnasium at Carbonear Collegiate, the school’s Special Olympians are getting a crash course in basketball.
Under the watchful eye of a group of student volunteers, the dozen or so athletes are going through drills at both ends of the gym.
Grade 11 student Blake Loveys is just one of half-a-dozen students volunteering with the project. He spends a lot of time guiding his classmates
The program volunteers lead the Special Olympians through drills. They take turns throwing bounce passes, dribbling and shooting the ball.
Started by Special Olympics NL, it’s one of three pilot programs taking place at high schools in the Trinity-Conception region. The other centres are Crescent Collegiate in Blaketown and Ascension Collegiate in Bay Roberts.
Like the rest, Loveys makes sure the athletes know where they’re shooting, passing and teaches them how to dribble.
If they don’t get it right the first time, there’s always plenty of encouragement to keep improving.
When things do go right, a big cheer resonates off the gym walls followed by plenty of slaps on the back.
It’s only been a month of practice for the group and already people around the program are seeing plenty of improvement.
All of this is a part of the school’s unified basketball program.
Basketball is just the begin- ning. There are plans to incorporate other teams sports into the fold in the future.
Teacher Danielle Doyle sees the program as more than a sporting event. She sees it as a way to bring students from different parts of the school together.
“I have more students than I can count interested in coaching, reffing and doing anything they can to be a part of it, which is a positive thing,” she told The Compass last Thursday. “It’s creating bonds between students in our building. Sometimes the students because of their abilities, there’s a lot of classes they can’t be included in. There are a lot that they can be, but with this program they’re all on an even playing field.
“They get to work together as a team. It’s friendships that are developing that might not otherwise had the opportunity to develop.”
There is a tournament being held on Dec. 2 in Carbonear. It’s three-on-three format pairs two Special Olympians with one volunteer playing a game in a halfcourt setting.
With 12 Special Olympians, Carbonear will be entering six teams, with the others coming from Crescent and Ascension. The winner has chance to head to Ottawa.
So far, the program has been well received by the school’s population.
“I don’t have to persuade any of them to go out to the gym,” said Doyle. “When I say we’re going out for basketball practice, they all go and they go willingly. Before I even get to the gym, they’re usually out there ready to go.”
It’s been a thrill for the students volunteering with the program.
Loveys got involved because Doyle needed the help and he had some experience with basketball.
“Any chance to help out and I’ll do what I can,” he said. “It’s really fun. It’s a great feeling helping out and giving back.”
It’s creating bonds between students in our building. Sometimes the students because of their abilities, there’s a lot of classes they can’t be included in. Danielle Doyle
Carbonear Collegiate students Blake Loveys (left) and Ally Cleary help Special Olympian Josh Curran with shooting a basketball during a unified basketball practice on Nov. 3.