Sports are more than just games. They are activities to keep one’s spirits up, build one’s strength and build relationships.
Sports provide several physical and mental health benefits, like heightened self-esteem, increased problem solving skills and concentration, reduced stress, sensory relief, and fitness (Dorfman). Sports also help students understand the importance of teamwork.
Through the power of sports, people with intellectual disabilities can discover new strengths, abilities, skills and success. Special Olympics athletes find joy, confidence and fulfillment on the playing field and in daily life. They also inspire people in their communities and elsewhere to open their hearts to a wider world of human talents and potential (Special Olympics, 2019).
Transformative learning on and off the court
The iCan Dream Center drew inspiration from this concept, striving to allow children to experience what they can do rather than focusing on what they cannot.
The center was fortunate to find one person in particular who has a passion for working with diverse learners, Ms. Fely Ong. She immediately connected with the center, and a new adaptive tennis program, iCan Dream Tennis, was born, offering tennis to players in an after-school format (USTA, n.d.).
Students look forward to hitting the courts with Ms. Ong and her volunteers whether they are enjoying tennis outside during the warm, sunny summer days or inside at the Racquet Club during the chilly winter afternoons. Ms. Ong and her volunteers are patient with students and built a curriculum for them to learn the game. What makes Ms. Ong and her volunteers most amazing is their commitment to iCan Dream Center students and their learning needs.
Dorfman, M. (2013, November 11). What You Need to Know About Students with Special Needs and Participation in Interscholastic Athletics – Friendship Circle – Special Needs Blog. Retrieved from https://www.friendshipcircle.org/blog/2013/07/03/what-you-need-to-know-about-students-with-special-needs-and-participation-in-interscholastic-athletics/
Special Olympics. (2019, December 20). Retrieved from https://www.specialolympics.org/about/our-mission
USTA Midwest Adaptive Tennis Spotlight:Fely Ong. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.usta.com/en/home/stay-current/midwest/usta-midwest-adaptive-tennis-spotlight-fely-ong.html