AU partners with Special Olympics Ohio and Cavs Academy for a basketball sports clinic

Shila Hartzler pictured on far left

On March 22, 2023, from 10 a.m.-1 p.m., schools from five different counties came together for a basketball clinic that was hosted on the campus of Ashland University at the Arthur L. and Maxine Sheets Rybolt Health Sciences and Recreation Center.

Over 12 schools ranging from Ashland, Holmes, Wayne, and Richland counties attended the clinic.

This event included over 220 athletes and over 150 teachers, chaperones, and staff that came and provided fun as well.

The event’s goal was to bring together students with and without disabilities for a day of sports while educating educators on fresh ideas for bringing these opportunities to their own schools and promoting inclusion among their student bodies.

The AU Recreation Center had basketball skills stations, fitness and wellness screening stations, and sensory stations set up.

“This is an experience that my kids don’t get to have on a daily basis. Kids in Wayne County don’t get to do these things every day, they don’t get to come to a college and interact with all the other kids,” said Shelby Prater, Intervention Specialist at John R. Lea and Waynedale High School. “This is a perfect time for these kids to get to communicate, socialize, and interact in a way that they are comfortable with, with all their like peers. And with all the other college kids, that are here helping and the Cavs association here helping today, its really been great to see everybody doing what they love.”

Senior Shila Hartzler appreciated the gestures made and the fun event.

“It was so much fun just getting to interact with the kids and watching them just enjoy themselves and have fun. Interacting with us, with each other, and interacting with the Cavs coaches. It was so much fun to see the joy the kids have. Getting to volunteer today was such a blessing.”

Bri Sumser, coordinator of Unified Champion Schools (southwest region) shared what they plan to do after this event.

“From this event, we are hoping to go out across the state of Ohio, duplicate this event, hope to grow and expand our network, not only for Unified Champion Schools but for schools who haven’t heard about us and our programming but also our partnership with the Cavs and help grow their program as well.”