Courage Kenny Rehabilitation Institute runs the only youth wheelchair basketball program in Minnesota. They are a developmental and community-based program for the Paralympic team for USA men’s and women’s wheelchair basketball that has been around since 1928.
Courage Kenny Rehabilitation Institute tailors each of their co-ed teams to a different age and skill level. One of the younger teams, the Rolling Rowdies, focuses on the fundamentals of wheelchair basketball such as chair skills, dribbling, shooting, and of course, having fun. The program coordinator stated that, “it is comforting for a child with a disability to participate in a welcoming environment with a gym full of kids just like them that they might not see at school.”
The next step up is the Jr. Rolling Gophers, similar to a high school JV team, and ultimately the Varsity team – the Jr. Rolling Timberwolves. Similar to many high school basketball teams, team members on the Jr. Rolling Timberwolves are required to do two workouts outside of practice time each week, as well as maintain a specific GPA to play.
While learning the skills of wheelchair basketball is important, it is vital for these athletes to learn more about healthy living. Thus, this program provides the necessary coaches and equipment to excel on and off the court. Along with healthy living, they emphasize respecting others’ abilities and looking past each other’s disabilities. Without the Courage Kenny youth wheelchair basketball program, these kids would not have another place to play. Courage Kenny Rehabilitation Institute plans to use their UA grant to support the youth wheelchair basketball team members with sweatbands, socks, back-packs, and shooting sleeves. Many of the athletes have dreams of playing wheelchair basketball in college and on the Paralympic team.
Rose Hollermann of Elysian, Minn., is an athlete that trained with the Courage Kenny Rehabilitation Institute from an early age and went on to become a 2012 U.S. Paralympian. She is a member of the U.S. Women’s wheelchair basketball team vying for a spot on the team that will represent the U.S. at the Rio Paralympics in September. Rose started playing wheelchair basketball at the Institute when she was seven years old.
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