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Patton College of Education creates Unified Basketball program

Published: January 7, 2020 Author: Tony Meale

Ohio University’s Recreation & Sport Pedagogy (RSP) Department, housed within The Gladys W. and David H. Patton College of Education, has partnered with the Athens Community Center to deliver an inclusive basketball program in Spring 2020.

The program, Unified Basketball, will join people with and without intellectual disabilities on the same team. It was inspired by a simple principle: training together and playing together is a quick path to friendship and understanding.

“The goal of the program is to bring people together from all backgrounds and all abilities to be physically active, learn from one another and, most importantly, have fun,” said RSP Assistant Professor and Physical Activity & Wellness (PAW) Coordinator Dr. Annie Machamer. “This will be a wonderful opportunity for all involved, and we are excited to represent The Patton College of Education.”

The league, intended for students 16 and up, will run from March 17 to April 16. Teams will practice for the first two weeks of the season, while games will be held on Tuesdays and Thursdays during the final three weeks at either 5:30 or 6:30 p.m. All games will take place in the Athens Community Center Gymnasium.

The Athens Community Center provides area residents comprehensive programs, activities, and facilities that encourage health, fitness, and cultural, recreational, educational, and social opportunities in the community.

“The goal of the program is to offer opportunity for all to share in the fun of the game of basketball,” said Erin Helms, Athens Community Center program specialist. “RSP is an ideal partner because we share an interest in providing individuals with access to sport and recreation. We will both use our resources to ensure this program has a sturdy foundation.”

RSP Brian Rider
Dr. Brian Rider and RSP students organized a Unified Bocce Tournament last spring.

OHIO students will play a key role in that. In fact, students in Dr. Katherine Ann Jordan’s REC2750 Inclusive Recreation course are developing the program as a class project. They will also create a resource manual for RSP and the Athens Community Center to use in delivery of the program.

“The resource manual provides guidance on how to create an inclusive atmosphere, a theoretical guiding framework for a unified program, and resources to assist in implementation,” said Jordan, RSP visiting assistant professor.

Machamer, meanwhile, will coordinate community outreach and advocacy for Unified Basketball and will help OHIO undergraduate and graduate students as they implement the program.

RSP Unified Basketball
OHIO students will help organize the Unified Basketball program

PAW graduate teaching assistants will serve as head coaches as they pursue master’s degrees in Coaching Education. Undergraduate students who are Health & Physical Education and Physical Activity & Sport Coaching majors will serve as assistant coaches.

This collaborative program will help create a more inclusive community in Southeast Ohio.

“There is a need for greater inclusivity across our society, notably in the area of wellness and physical activity,” said RSP Assistant Professor Dr. Brian Rider. “Our society has created unfortunate attitudinal and contextual barriers limiting opportunities for people with disabilities. Unified Sports aid in breaking down barriers through social inclusion by bringing together people with and without disabilities. Physical activity, sport, and recreation have a magnetic way of bringing community together, and we have a great responsibility to create more inclusive opportunities for all.”

People can register for the league at the Athens Community Center through March 8. Registration is $20 per person.