By Kevin Maher
Parkland Buddy Sports is holding a free weekly basketball program where participating kids and adults with special needs can play games and learn skills.
The organization is celebrating its 20th year of service to the Parkland community and over ten years with its basketball program.
“Our goal is to work on creating and building a more inclusive and kinder environment here in our community,” said Wendy Hunter, a board member at Parkland Buddy Sports.
The program is open to participants ages three and up every Sunday, starting Jan. 8 and ending Feb. 26, from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at Terramar Park, located at 6575 NW 76 Drive.
Participants will be partnered with neurotypical volunteers throughout the program. Parents or guardians are encouraged to stay and watch participants play, but they are not required to participate. Parkland Buddy Sports does require parents or guardians to take participants to the restroom if needed.
Close-toed shoes, a hat, and sunscreen are encouraged for both participants and volunteers. Water is available, but bringing an additional water supply is highly recommended. Participants will receive reversible basketball jerseys and have an award ceremony, including ice cream, at the end of the program.
Registration is open until Dec. 9 and is available here. After Dec. 9, a waitlist will be implemented to ensure a volunteer is available for every newly registered participant. Because of the waitlist, Parkland Buddy Sports asks participants to register only if they can attend at least 80% of the program.
Parkland Buddy Sports is looking for teenage and adult volunteers for the basketball program and programs in the future, with service hours offered to high school students. Adults must have a background check done to volunteer. Click here to register.
“You need patience, compassion, and kindness,” Hunter explains to volunteers. “It’s really about friendship, making everybody feel included and equal, learning how to be a good teammate, having fun, and laughing.”
For more information or to help support Parkland Buddy Sports, click here.
- Kevin Maher is a University of Florida journalism graduate with an interest in investigative journalism. Kevin has also worked at The Independent Florida Alligator and WUFT News.
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