Friday, September 23, 2011

No Longer About Basketball or Interpreters

I approached my school district with the following request:

Ronnie started playing wheelchair basketball last school year for a team organized by Sportable. Sportable is a non-profit organization dedicated to providing sports experiences for people with physical disabilities.

Ronnie loves playing on the team and is showing real potential as an athlete. It’s a sports experience that unfortunately he cannot get at school. While he can attend school events such as football games, basketball games, and such, because he is a wheelchair user, he can’t participate on those teams. To my knowledge, the school district does not offer any wheelchair-centered sports teams.

Because he is not afforded the opportunity of school sports teams, I would like to have school district support for his commitment to the Sportable wheelchair team, including interpreter support during practices and games. If HCPS did offer wheelchair sports teams, I’m sure providing an interpreter for those would not be a problem.

The school district mulled it over and then politely declined my request because they contend they do offer sports teams on which he could compete. When they explained the teams to me, I knew exactly what they were talking about.

In my school district, the special education department has organized ‘special’ basketball games where one school team plays another. The teams are made up of all the special education students in each particular school, and Ronnie played on his school team last year. However, he was the only student in a wheelchair. As you can imagine, this is not the level of basketball play Ronnie prefers.

I explained that to the person who contacted me about my request. She said, “Well, if he would like to be one of the managers of our regular football team, we could arrange that.”

I replied, “So if he would like to be the token disabled kid who sits near the bench for your high school football games and you call him a manager, then that would be ok with you?”

She said, “Of course.” (I swear, that really was her response.)

What would your response have been after that...????


Heather said...

Nothing printable, that's for sure! I'm sorry I don't have any constructive suggestions to make, but I still wanted to cheer you for being such a great advocate for your kids. You do a GREAT job!

AZ Chapman said...

keep on fighting ALthough i was a disabled manger and i loved the experince