Basketballs were flying around the Hofheinz Pavilion on Nov. 10, as more than 50 HISD students with special needs got to meet and play basketball with coaches and student-athletes from the University of Houston (UH) men’s basketball program.
For the first UH Special Olympics Basketball Camp, Cougar coaches and players set up six stations on the pavilion’s basketball court, and middle-school students practiced shooting, dribbling, passing, and other fundamentals.
“It’s important that we have a chance to do this,” said Cougar Head Coach Kelvin Sampson. “It’s worth it to put a smile on the students’ faces. Being able to give back – that’s what it’s all about.”
Six HISD middle schools — Clifton, Dowling, Johnston, Lanier, West Briar, and Sharpstown International — won a lottery in order to attend. “The way the players are interacting with the kids, they’re having as much fun as the students,” said Special Education Program Specialist Richelle M. Brooks. “Next year, six different schools will get a chance to participate.”
“We plan to make this an annual event,” said Special Assistant Coach Louis Reynaud, “but next year, I’m going to lower the baskets a little bit. The program may expand to include a reading component as well.”
The event was a collaboration among Houston/Texas Special Olympics, UH Men’s Basketball, and HISD’s Office of Special Education Services.