Play Beyond Expectations

"Helping People with Disabilities Make life Better"

Local program empowers young people with developmental disabilities
"I was supposed to never walk. Or swim, or skate, or ride a bike, or play hockey."
Those are the words of Brian Gray, who was born with cerebral palsy. "Apparently, nearly... more

Play Beyond Expectations
a parent’s review

Play Beyond Expectations is a relatively new program created with the goal of providing the opportunity for adults with disabilities to learn and participate in sports activities.  Far too often, people with disabilities are side-lined through their developmental years because of their higher requirement of time and attention to successfully learn new sport skills.  In our relatively privileged society, it is shocking to realize how many adults with special needs have never had the opportunity to hold a basketball, or a racquet, never mind offered the opportunity to pursue the skills required to participate in a sport.  Play Beyond Expectations has been designed to provide the level of interaction  and repetition to successfully teach sports skills beginning at a very basic level: how to bounce a basketball, how to hold a  floor hockey stick, how to hit a ball with a racquet.

Young adults with disabilities, having graduated from the public school system, are often faced with a sudden loss of peers, social interaction, and community involvement.  Parents and/or care givers are often unprepared for the need to create new environments to continue socialization and learning for their young adults.  Play Beyond Expectations creates the opportunity to get out from sitting in front of the TV or the computer and into physical activities that involve learning, social interaction, the chance to experience success, and the rare opportunity to just have fun. The program’s coach, Brian Gray, brings a wealth of both personal and professional experience to his work with the program.  He has individually tailored drills to meet the individual’s level of function, as well as overseeing games safely involving the group.  A favorite part of the program involves a wrap-up discussion with clients, volunteers, parents and coach reviewing each session’s activities and accomplishments.   

People with disabilities, like all humans, have the capacity to continue to learn throughout life.  It is part of what makes life worthwhile.  There is triumph in watching a young man with autism smile with pleasure as he sinks a basketball and the gym rings with cheers.  There is delighted wonder in a parent’s eyes to see their son or daughter exceed their expectations of them.  There is the unexpected benefits beyond the gym of improved self-confidence, physical fitness, and increased functional independence.  One mother came in smiling one day, explaining her son had, for the first time, helped load furniture when they were moving.  Another parent who reported their son was now unloading the dishwasher and setting the table.  Each success has a ripple-effect of often unexpected further accomplishments in daily activities and the potential for employment. 

Play Beyond Expectations provides possibilities.  

From passive and disinterested to participation and accomplishment!

(a mother’s perspective)

While it is difficult to distinguish the benefits Matthew has obtained from the PBE program as opposed to the results of the entire Individualized Funding program, I believe that certain aspects of his progress can be directly attributed to PBE:

There has, of course, been a significant development of physical skills required for the sports of basketball, floor hockey and pickle ball.  He has learned the basic physical skills involved in holding and handling of a basketball, a hockey stick and a pickle ball racquet.  He understands the purpose of the game… ie. to score a goal, to make a basket, to get the whiffle ball over the net.  He has learned to enjoy the triumph of achieving these goals.  We have seen unexpected improvements in his eye-hand coordination, balance and reaction time that has extended beyond the gym-time into his daily activities. There has been an increase in his ability to plan and carry out more complicated series of actions to achieve his goals.

There have been the benefits of the socialization component of the program, the development of patience with other members of the group, the pleasure of being a positive example to newer members, and the concept of being part of a group.  The group environment naturally stimulates increased communication and interaction.   He enjoys the sense of being part of a team, learning to pass to another player, and the value of praise from his team-mates and the volunteers.  The program provides the opportunity to even have fun sometimes… a rare thing in his life.

I believe these things have contributed to a change in his self-image  from one of passive and disinterested observer to one of greater ability and participation and accomplishment. 

Juliana Gibson

M's mother is thrilled that her son was able to participate in Play Beyond Expectations.
She said, "It provides a unique opportunity to learn the skills in a safe and intelligently structured program tailored to each individual's ability and interest."

Since J started coming to Play Beyond Expectations, his flexibility and reflexes improved. He is also better at shooting, and passing a hockey ball or basketball.  
“I am having more fun,” said J.  As we affirm his progress he continually feels better about his abilities.   J isn’t the only one seeing benefits from coming to Play Beyond Expectations.

When M started coming he was afraid of the ball and had no idea how to catch it. “He was afraid to go in the room, had no concept of games, or how to hold a stick, or shoot a ball. 
We started at ground zero.” Now, his understanding of sports has improved as has his abilities to play.