People of all ages took part in The University of Southern Mississippi Technology Learning Center’s (TLC) 2013 Gulf Coast Tennis and Softball Clinic this summer on the university’s Gulf Park campus in Long Beach. The free sports clinic catered to 45 participants with various physical disabilities.
The clinic was sponsored by the TLC, Living Independence for Everyone of Mississippi (LIFE), Metro Area Community Empowerment (MACE) and the Mississippi Department of Rehabilitation Services (MDRS). MACE provided participants with a free lunch and sports drinks.
“Being involved in an organization that puts recreation on top of everything is such an internal reward,” said Ashley-Nicole Ross Flowers, coordinator of recreational services and assistive technology specialist. “MDRS, LIFE, and MACE came together in a way that allows our participants to experience intrinsic motivations of wheelchair sports. The benefits our participants acquire by taking part in sports activities are healthy and they are learning to incorporate it into their everyday lives.”
During the 2013 Gulf Coast Tennis and Softball Clinic, participants learned about the use of wheelchairs in Paralympics sports. MACE representatives Antonio Wright and Robbie Sullivan conducted explanations of each sport and provided demonstrations. Flowers explained each sport’s rules and instructions and participants were able to experience the activities using sports wheelchairs.
“I think it’s awesome what the university and these organizations are doing,” said clinic participant Kevin Galloway of Long Beach. “Sports wheelchairs are extremely expensive and, without them, the simple task of shooting a basketball or hitting a baseball is next to impossible for someone in a chair. If it weren't for TLC and these organizations, for me, sports would be impossible.”
The next sports clinic hosted by the TLC will be September 7 at Delgado Community College in New Orleans. This sports clinic will feature a variety of activities, including javelin, discus throw, power lifting, wheelchair softball and wheelchair basketball.
As a community based, university-directed, non-profit organization, the TLC is dedicated to enhancing education, independence and quality of life for persons with disabilities. The center not only assists children and adults with disabilities, but also their families, teachers, and education professionals. Additionally, beach wheelchairs, hand cycles and a variety of recreational equipment is available at the TLC which may be borrowed free of charge to anyone with disabilities.
For more information about the Southern Miss Technology Learning Center, call 228.214.3400.