YMCA of Central Ohio

OCU athletes join people with disabilities for basketball clinic

Members of the Ohio Christian University men’s basketball team spent the day Wednesday as teachers at a basketball clinic for people with disabilities, but in the process learned lessons of their own.

About 200 people participated in the event held at the Pickaway County Family YMCA, according to Chris Hiles, vice president of media and sales for IN-Abled, the company organizing the clinic.

“It’s really a life-changing event,” Hiles said. “Not only for the participants but also for the student athletes to see that people are people and to break down those barriers for people with disabilities.”

The participants ranged in age and were invited through a partnership with Berger Health System, the Pickaway County Board of Developmental Disabilities, Special Olympics and Easter Seals, as well as organizations in Ross, Fairfield and Fayette counties like Good Hands Supported Living, he said.

Students from Teays Valley and Westfall school districts also participated in the clinic.

The event was held as a Christian service project for the OCU men’s team, which is part of the National Christian College Athletic Association (NCCAA). Though the first of its kind, the local event is being used to develop a model that may be used by the NCCAA as a standard for future Christian service projects nationwide.

The clinics were followed by an exhibition game between NCCAA and OCU officials and an all-star team held Wednesday night at OCU. Proceeds from the game benefit Easter Seals, which Hiles said was chosen because it is a holistic service organization with an international reach that provides services for people with disabilities.

Hiles, a former employee of the local YMCA and a graduate of the former Circleville Bible College (now OCU), said the Y offered its facility free of charge for the clinics on Wednesday.

“Our idea has always been that the YMCA should be a community center, and it fit our mission well to work with them,” said Jeff Phillips, director of the Pickaway County Family YMCA. “There was a lot of activity, a lot of energy and smiles, not only from the kids but also the basketball players. They had a great time, and we were proud to be part of it.”

IN-Abled, based in Logan, is a media company that creates person-centered illustrations focusing on the success, abilities and inclusion of a diverse group of people in the disabilities community, according to its Web site.

More information can be found Online at www.in-abled.com.

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