The Unified Basketball Program

A first-in-the-state basketball program continues to provide hoop dreams right here on the Coast.Ocean Springs High School teams up with The Dream Program to provide a second basketball season for players with and without intellectual disabilities.  Ocean Springs High School Director of Student Services Grant Dickinson said, “The kids have been so excited all day. I’ve gotten a million hugs and everybody’s ready to get back on the court and try again.”
The Unified Basketball Program works to foster understanding and unity by allowing current Ocean Springs High School athletes to play alongside athletes with disabilities.
Cheers and applause echoed throughout the school’s gymnasium as the unified team played its very first game of the season.
Last season, the unified team played its five games after all of the Ocean Springs junior varsity games were complete. This season, the team will play two of its five games in-between the JV boys and girls games, hoping to raise more awareness for athletes with disabilities.
The Dream Program’s goal is to create unified teams in several high schools along the Coast within the next three to five years. Officials from surrounding school districts were spotted in the crowd. Dream Program Executive Director Billy Dungan said, “I was recently contacted by a teacher from Pearl River High School that was asking questions about how the Dream Program had initiated this particular athletic endeavor.”
Unified team players tell News 25 the final score of the game isn’t nearly as important as the radiant smiles across all faces when the game is over. Deonta Burchfield, athlete at Ocean Springs and unified team player, said, “I just like seeing everybody happy. There are parents that are happy that we’re doing it for them and it’s just a pretty thing to see.”
The Dream Program also offers other recreational opportunities such as flag football, bowling, softball and more.

Categories: Local News, News

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