And That’s a Wrap!

By SAMMI REISS

Wrapping up its 10th successful season, Jammin’ Jayhawks recently starred on CBS News. Jammin’ Jayhawks members get the opportunity to teach children with special needs in their community how to play sports, and is sponsored by the Jericho Athletic Association and supported by SEPTA.

Program member Dina enjoys the chance to play basketball.

The program consists of three seasons: soccer in the fall, basketball in the winter, and dance in the spring. Participants are refreshed in basic athletic abilities which eventually leads to a competitive game at the last session of the season. The program has been found to be rewarding for not just the athletes, but also for the volunteers. The volunteers have the opportunity to watch the athletes grow as both players and people through their weekly interactions. Program director Lisa Ripka said, “It gives kids of all abilities a chance to be on a team, a chance they would not have otherwise had. There are very few opportunities for students with special needs to play sports in our community. This program brings together the high school volunteers with students of all ages in our district, forges bonds among them, and unites the community as a whole.” In addition to bringing the community together, the constant encouragement of the volunteers aids in enhancing the self-esteem of the students.

Participating in Jammin’ Jayhawks and working with special needs students not only fulfills students’ volunteering hours, but it also acts as a rewarding experience that the volunteers will always remember.

Jericho High School teachers and students have praise for the program. Art teacher Ms. Gildfedder said, “The work these students in Jammin’ Jayhawks are doing is inspiring.” Sophomore volunteer Emma B. said, “I enjoy going to Jammin Jayhawks and playing sports with the kids.”

This program has not only impacted so many people, but it also has done an excellent job of stressing the importance of the interactions in a community. With the basketball season coming to an end, the athletes look forward to a season of dance in the spring.

Read the article written in CBS News about the program here.

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