FERGUS – International wheelchair basketball star Patrick Anderson showed off some of his basketball tips and tricks at JD Hogarth Public School this week.
The four-time Paralympian and native of Fergus was at school on Oct. 22 to celebrate the first year of the Patrick Anderson wheelchair basketball program, offered by the Upper Grand District School Board.
Program founder and organizer Andy Speers explained that the program is for all Kindergarten to Grade 12 students.
Speers and Anderson piloted the program at a few schools last year, but it’s now a full-fledged program with all 32 places reserved for two full school years.
Four schools have already tried the program in their schools this year and the feedback has been “overwhelmingly positive,” Speers said. “I really enjoy the program. “
The inspiration behind the program is wheelchair basketball star Anderson.
Growing up, Anderson enjoyed sports and music.
“I played any sport in school that I could get my hands on,” he said.
However, at the age of nine, he was involved in a car accident when the driver lost control of his car after drinking too much. He lost his legs and for a while did not know how to resume sports. ]
He was able to resume music quickly, but he struggled to play sports.
He tried cross-country skiing and inline skating with his prosthetic legs, but it never worked.
About a year after the accident, he discovered wheelchair basketball.
“It was probably the first time in a year that I didn’t think about skating, running and jumping, climbing, falling trees,” Anderson said. “Because I was flying… like someone took my legs and sat down and said, ‘oh, wait a sec, I have something for you, here are wings.
“Alright, go fly. “
And he’s been playing wheelchair basketball ever since. He plans to represent Canada next year at the Tokyo Paralympic Games.
Anderson took time over the summer to prepare instructional videos for teachers. So once the school has obtained the sports wheelchairs for a week, it will have all the tools to teach.
“The hope is… when the chairs are here, everyone… is using it in their gym classes,” Speers said. “So whatever you do in the gym, that type of unit shuts down and you just have the chair for a week and… we hope each kid will have around 100 minutes at least.”
At JD Hogarth Public School, students not only used the chairs in their gym class, they used them for intermurals during recess and even teachers used the chairs after school.
Bob and Lynn Cameron, owners of the Heritage River Retirement Residence in Elora, sponsored the 16 wheelchairs at a cost of approximately $ 18,000 and the RDK wheelchairs were provided by Sunrise Medical.
Anderson told the students he had to work to get to where he is in wheelchair basketball and he credits much of his success to his coaches.
His first coach taught him how to shoot the ball correctly.
“Sometimes as a coach, as a teacher, as a parent, as a pastor, you have to be the bad guy,” he said, adding that his coach had made him sit down. under the basket and pull with one hand until he can easily pull it.
“It’s boring but I had to do it and he made me do it and I really didn’t like him for a few months but as the hits started to come in and I felt a little better, a little better , I started loving Jeff again and knowing how it works, “he said.” So besides having talents and joy, I had a great training. “
However, he said that even with all his joy and love for wheelchair basketball, he still felt sad when he saw his friends playing hockey.
“I was like, ‘what’s going on here, I’m happy one minute and super sad the next,'” he said.
So he prayed and asked God for new legs but nothing happened.
“But that was the answer,” Anderson said. “And that was the last time I remember praying this prayer, and I think the experience of playing wheelchair basketball finally sank that day.”
He realized that losing his legs made him a better wheelchair basketball player.
“I am so blessed with the sport,” Anderson said. “And I was able to explore that and not necessarily feel bad that it happened when I was watching hockey.” … But I have had the opportunity to reflect on what I still have, even though I am missing something.
“I guarantee that each of you has a unique gift, a unique strength that you can build on,” he said.