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Wheelchair basketball game raises awareness of disabilities
School has more than 80 students in club
Flowery Branch High basketball coach Hazel Hall prepares to shoot a free throw during a wheelchair basketball game between the students and faculty members Friday afternoon. The event topped off a monthlong program by the Partnership for Success and Career & Technology Instruction to get individuals informed about people with disabilities.

Teachers and students at Flowery Branch High School played a friendly game of basketball before leaving for spring break Friday afternoon.

Their was only one catch — they couldn’t use their legs and they had to stay in their wheelchairs.

“It was harder than we expected. I think that with the dribbling and the rolling and the shooting, that was just more hand-eye coordination that I do with walking and running,” said Stefanie Gibbs, Flowery Branch High School graduation coach.

The idea behind the wheelchair basketball game was to inspire students and teachers to think about what students with physical disabilities can do.

The wheelchairs were provided by BlazeSports, a nonprofit organization that helps empower people with disabilities through sports and activities.

“I think it’s great for the kids to see that people with disabilities can do lots of things,” Gibbs said.

All month, Partnership for Success and Career Technology Instruction, two organizations at the school, have been working to raise disability awareness.

The students organized several activities each week to highlight the different kinds of disabilities.

“Basically we were trying to get across the word that people are people. Disabilities do not define the person.

Theyare still a person with a difference and everybody is different,” program coordinator Terresa Shubert said.

Partnership for Success is a grant-funded program through the Georgia Council on Developmental Disabilities.

More than 80 students, both with disabilities and without, make up the school club. There are 18 clubs in 16 counties in the state.

“The Partnership for Success program is made up of students with and without disabilities. So you don’t have one segment of the student population serving another segment. You have the entire student population working together,” said Fay Inman, Partnership for Success administrative assistant.

The teams were split between teachers and students. Some of the students, like Junior Nick Wayne, play on the school’s basketball team.

Wayne said it was much harder to play in a wheelchair.

“I’m used to playing with my legs more than just my arms, so just shooting with my arms was a big change,” Wayne said.

Even though it was a challenge to play the game he said it was still fun and wouldn’t pass up a chance to play wheelchair basketball with his teachers and fellow students. He said it was a learning experience.

“It does make me appreciate a lot. I feel blessed to actually be able to use my legs,” Wayne said.

Sophomore Shahrukh Panjwani agrees that the game was fun, but thought it was more important for students and teachers to learn this lesson together.

“I think it’s definitely important for people to see both sides. You know having legs and see what the gift is with not having legs and learning from others,” Panjwani said.

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