January 8, 2015 -- For the last 24 years, Steve Davis of Sandwich has had to travel to Brockton and other off-Cape locations to play basketball. Davis, a paraplegic, gladly made those trips as a way to stay involved with sports and enjoy the adrenalin-rush of competition. Thanks to Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital Cape Cod (SCC), Davis and others living with disabling conditions will soon be playing wheelchair basketball on Cape Cod.
Beginning in January, Spaulding’s Adaptive Sports Centers (SASC) will offer four sessions of wheelchair basketball for youth and adults. This pilot program will help Spaulding assess the community’s level of interest in developing the sport on the Cape, notes Mary Patstone, director of the Spaulding Adaptive Sports Centers.
“Wheelchair basketball is a terrific sport that can be played at both recreational and competitive levels,” she says. “People living with challenges often seek chances to be physical, to be part of a team, to build skills and to excel. Those with new injuries or diagnoses might find a therapeutic benefit from playing, given the right support and encouragement. Our goal is to connect both groups with activities that will strengthen the body and mind and potentially ignite a new passion.”
Wheelchair basketball sessions will take place January 17, 31, February 14 and 28 from 10 a.m. – noon at Hyannis Youth and Community Center at 141 Bassett Lane. Spaulding is offering the program in collaboration with CapeAble Adventures, one of SASC’s community partners. Davis will be teaching basketball skills, including wheelchair and throwing skills. Davis hopes it will attract those who want to get involved but who are not able to travel to play.
“When you live with a disability, travel can be an obstacle,” says Davis. “Driving to Brockton is a tough commitment. This is close, and we’ve got all the equipment people need.”
Spaulding Adaptive Sports Centers will provide special court sports wheelchairs for participants, including non-disabled volunteers who will learn the basics of chair play. “Adaptive sports help to create inclusive communities, where disabled and able-bodied people come together around a shared activity,” says Patstone. “It sends a powerful message about what’s possible when people are committed to removing boundaries.”
Craig Bautz, president of CapeAble Adventures and a paraplegic, agrees. “People with disabilities don’t want to be separate. Sport is sport. It creates a bridge and expands everyone’s perspective.”
Once someone gets involved, he or she becomes part of a network that can lead to other opportunities, Davis adds. SASC programs include skiing, hockey, tennis, golf, water sports, cycling, rock wall climbing, and many other activities.
The pilot basketball program is supported by a donation from Chatham Philanthropist Walter Meier. His gift will also allow SCC to be the departure point for Spaulding Ski Club trips to Loon Mountain on February 7 and to Waterville Valley on March 7, to offer simulator golf (indoor adapted golf) starting in February, and to pilot wheelchair tennis in the spring.
For Davis, the benefits of adaptive sports touch all aspects of his life. Now married with three small children, he counts on adaptive sports to keep him fit and sharp.
“As a disabled person, you learn it’s important to stay as healthy as you can,” he says. “Sports help with that. Basketball is not only great physically, but great for the mind. I encourage others to come out and give it a try.”
Pre-registration for wheelchair basketball is required. To pre-register and for more information, call Spaulding Adaptive Sports Centers at 877-976-7272.
About Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital Cape Cod
Opened in 1995, Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital Cape Cod is the only facility providing hospital-level rehabilitation on the Cape. In addition, outpatient centers in Orleans, Yarmouth, Sandwich and Plymouth provide comprehensive therapy, specialty, and rehabilitation physician services. Its Spaulding for Children Outpatient Center in Sandwich is a regional resource for children with a wide range of conditions, including physical and intellectual disabilities. Spaulding Cape Cod is part of the Spaulding Rehabilitation Network, which includes four hospitals, two skilled nursing facilities in Boston, and 23 outpatient centers from Cape Ann to Cape Cod. For more information, please visit www.spauldingrehab.org/capecod.