Wheelchair sports program hosts weekly games in Youngstown

The basketball and soccer games are hosted by Adaptive Sports of Ohio at Stambaugh Stadium.

Weekly games at Stambaugh Stadium give physically disabled participants exercise and competition.

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – Adaptive Sports Program of Ohio hosts basketball and soccer games every Sunday night for people in and out of wheelchairs.

The organization promotes health and wellness for individuals with physical disabilities through sports. They say the games at Stambaugh Stadium are a great opportunity for participants to exercise and compete.

“People with physical disabilities, if they can work this into their lives and get some sort of exercise each week, it really helps their long-term health and wellness,” said spokeswoman Courtney Kurth.

People who are not in wheelchairs can also play, but have to abide by the same rules.

Adaptive sports have certain rule changes for people in wheelchairs. For instance, in basketball you are allowed two pushes, then you have to dribble. The competitive nature of the sports still remain.

Billy Weaver has been playing adaptive sports since 1998, and says it can get pretty intense.

Weaver was born with a genetic disease that keeps him in a wheelchair. He says he likes that everyone is on an even playing field.

“Even though there’s able-bodied people that come out and play with us, they have the same restrictions as us.”

ASPO also has games for children. Ryan Zolnier of Brookfield just began playing adaptive sports. He says his favorite is wheelchair basketball.

“It’s competitive and sometimes you make friends playing.”

Whether it’s through volunteering or playing, adaptive sports help build lifelong friendships.

“All the families are really awesome, spending time with them, I’ve gotten closer with them,” said volunteer Tess Jones.

“I’ve got lifelong friends that I’ve had for 17, 18 years now,” Weaver said. “I talk to friends that live out of state now, and they do other sports.”

For information on how to get involved, visit Adaptive Sports Program of Ohio’s website.

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