Wooster pioneers student wheelchair basketball team
Wooster High School is the first school in Ohio to provide a wheelchair basketball team for disabled students.
The United States Department of Education in January 2013 encouraged schools to work with community organizations to form organizations for students with disabilities if they cannot participate in the existing program.
Lisa Followay, Executive director of the Adaptive Sports Program of Ohio took this guidance to heart and is the founder of Wooster’s own wheelchair basketball team. Followay led the initiative to allow her son, Casey, to participate in track, as his current health state prohibits the use of his legs. With her efforts, students with disabilities are now permitted to compete with their school’s track team. Her efforts do not stop there as Followay’s goal is to create as many team sports programs that students with disabilities can join.
Boys and girls in grades 1-12 who are a part of Wooster City School District are allowed to join basketball. The team is composed of five students with disabilities and five without. Until the team has at least 12 participants, non disabled students are allowed to join.
Evan Heller (8), greatly enjoys participating on the team and is shooting for success.
“My favorite part about being apart of the team is meeting other athletes who have a disability just like me, and playing the game I love in a new way. I would encourage any athlete, disabled or not to participate, as it is a very fun sport,” Heller said.
Dilshani Madawala is the program manager and coach for the team. Madawala previously interned with the ASPO, coaching wheelchair track, which is where she first met ASPO athletes. From that point on she was hooked.
“My favorite part is seeing the progress and growth the athletes are making both in practices and in the games. It’s so rewarding to see how successful these kids can be, and I’m extremely proud of what they are doing”, Madawala said.
To watch these students show off their skill, game information can be found by contacting The ASPO at 330-262-1200.