For a few days this summer, a group of campers ages 9-18 took part in Wheelchair Basketball Youth Camp, a joint program held on Southern’s campus that is part of a partnership between the College of Health and Human Services’ Institute for Adapted Sports and Recreation and the Ryan Martin Foundation, which is based in Norwalk, Conn.
Roughly 20 campers from Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, New York City, Long Island, Connecticut, and New Jersey spent three days on campus and, along with working on their basketball skills, had the opportunity to eat lunch in the dining hall and meet with representatives from Admissions and Accessibility Services. SCSU student athlete volunteers assisted throughout the three-day camp.
Now in its 14th year, the camp includes breakout sessions on relevant topics such as nutrition, exercise, and secondary education, in addition to player development. The program is open to all skill levels, and there is no charge to participate.
The Institute for Adapted Sports and Recreation, based in the university’s new College of Health and Human Services building, provides adaptive sport and recreational opportunities for individuals with physical or intellectual disabilities. The Institute will be supervised by students from the Therapeutic Recreation programs, under Mary Jo Archambault, associate professor of recreation, tourism, and sport management; coordinator of recreational therapy programs; and co-coordinator of the Institute.
The Institute’s mission is “to continuously strive to improve services and increase opportunities for persons with disabilities to participate in and experience adapted sport and inclusive recreation activities.” In that spirit, Archambault says, “By co-sponsoring this free camp we were able to provide this opportunity to kids from five different states.”
And Southern students benefit as well. The camp “also provided SCSU students with an opportunity to understand the sport,” says Archambault. “Indirectly we also want these campers to have a taste of what it feels like to be on a university campus. Athletics, Admissions, Accessibility Services, and the Department of Recreation, Tourism and Sport Management were also important to the success of this camp.”
She points out that sponsoring such a program as Wheelchair Basketball Youth Camp and involving Southern students and staff in the program ties into the university’s social justice mission and intentional recruitment of students with disabilities.
Since 2016, the Institute has provided over a dozen events by partnering with hospitals and adapted sporting organizations throughout Connecticut. These events have offered students, faculty, and community an opportunity to both observe and participate in adapted sports.
The mission of the Ryan Martin Foundation is “to help youth and adult athletes with disabilities live independent, impassioned, productive and full lives through sports training, mentoring and education.”