Inclusive programs inspire local elementary schooler

BOWLING GREEN, Ky. –  T.C. Cherry Elementary schoolers were in for the rides of their lives right on their very own basketball court. 

Bowling Green’s Special Populations Cameron Levis taught the kids how to play wheelchair basketball.  

This is part of the city’s Parks and Recreation adaptive sports program to teach school kids across the city the art of wheelchair sports. 

It’s really important that we focus on people’s abilities and not their disabilities so that we can include them,” said Levis. “We want to teach these lessons to students when they’re young so they can start to change our communities for the better for people with disabilities. It’s a really fun thing for us to do.”

Second grader Shatavia Barber was born with Spina Bifida, and she got her first wheelchair at 18-months-old.   

“I’m just glad to see them be able to play wheelchair basketball,” she said after playing along with her school friends.

Not only is she happy to see her classmates play like her, she’s already making it clear she’s willing to give pointers.

“When [Levis] comes to teach our class, I will be a good teacher to help tell cause I know how to play and stuff,” Shatavia said confidently. “I would help them understand what it’s like to be in a wheelchair.”

Shatavia’s mom Shalana Page says inclusive programs like this are exactly what empowers her daughter.

“It’s an amazing feeling for the other kids to be able to relate to Shatavia, to her day-to-day life,” Page said. “I think it’s good for her to be able to interact with kids doing what she’s used to as well. It’s always kind of challenging and emotional because she wants to be involved in everything like cheerleading and basketball, so adaptability is always needed.”

Levis agreed, saying, “[With these lessons] we start to see social acceptance. We start to see more inclusion. Accessibility becomes more of a priority for our communities.”

Page and Levis agreed they would love to see adaptive sports take off here in Kentucky