4imprint, LLC

Posted: April 03, 2023 3 min read

one by one®: Hoop Heroes Inclusive Basketball

Sports can be a source of inspiration, exercise, camaraderie and fun. But for children with disabilities, participation can sometimes be difficult.

Hoop Heroes wants to change that. Frank Power and his wife, Karla, founded the organization after being inspired by their experiences parenting two sons with special needs, Paddy and Kelton. They also spent years working as teachers with special-needs students and their families.

Frank Power, who has more than 25 years of experience playing and coaching basketball, explained that they were met with enthusiastic responses as they gauged interest in the community.

“We officially started with our Facebook® group, just seeing what interest levels were out there,” Power said. “We thought we’d start with just two age groups, and thought if we got 20 or 30 kids, we’d be happy.”

However, families flocked to the group and began signing up in larger numbers than expected. Power says there are 64 participants currently signed up for the March 7 kickoff date. The program, which includes three groups ranging in ages from 5 to 17, will be held every Tuesday for five weeks, with possible additional sessions held later in the fall or at other times throughout the year.

Compilation of two parents holding basketballs and a father and son holding basketballs.

“It’s a good problem to have,” Power said. “Anytime someone asks, I’ll make it work. A lot of these families have been told ‘no’ before, whether it’s at school or medical appointments or being able to compete or participate in something. I won’t tell them no.”

How sports giveaways help players and families feel like winners

To help make the experience more inclusive, Power has acquired accessible equipment that makes playing easier, including basketballs with bells inside for children who are blind and sensory fidget toys or headphones for participants who might easily get overstimulated. Participants will also receive special sports giveaways, like temporary tattoos and stress relievers in the shape of mini basketballs, which are simple and fun items for the children to enjoy.

The organization reached out to the local community for volunteer help and received an overwhelming response. Student-athletes from nearby Keyano College will serve as buddies for the participants in 45-minute basketball sessions, providing a welcome break for the participants’ families.

“A lot of parents of children with special needs don’t have the experience of just getting to sit down and watch their child,” Power explained. “We’re always on high alert, always moving around, always anticipating. We ask ourselves, ‘Is it too loud? Is it too much?’”

During the Hoop Heroes sessions, parents will be able to sit nearby and relax, read a book, have coffee or chat with other parents while volunteers work with their children.

“For a parent of a child with special needs, 45 minutes is a lot,” Power said. “Being in that position, I know how important it is.”

More than anything, Power hopes Hoop Heroes will be an opportunity for children and families to unwind and have fun, especially after a tough couple of years when many recreational opportunities had to be postponed or canceled.

“The last two or so years were hard,” Power said. “This population got hit even harder. We want to give people something to look forward to.”

A note from Cheryl

It is uplifting to see how Hoop Heroes creates opportunities for children with disabilities to participate in sports. 4imprint is pleased to play a small role in Hoop Heroes’ mission by providing promotional sports giveaways. To learn more about a 4imprint one by one® grant, visit onebyone.4imprint.ca.