Capstone project gives Life Skills students a chance to shine on the basketball court

Students took to the court on Friday, April 5 to shoot hoops and raise funds for their programs.
Photo by Crystal Apilado/Winters Express

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Students in the Winters High School and Winters Middle School Life Skills classes and Team Davis members took to the court on Friday, April 5 to shoot hoops and raise funds for their programs. The Senior Capstone Basketball Tournament was WHS student Marin Spalding’s Senior Capstone project, and the first tournament of its kind in Winters. Spalding said the project is close to her heart because her brother is autistic. Because of this she wanted to give an opportunity for students in the Life Skills classes to find a place to be a part of something they might not normally get a chance to do. Spalding said she also wanted to give back to Team Davis, an all-volunteer run non-profit organization with the mission to help enrich the lives of children and adults with developmental, cognitive and/or physical disabilities living in the Davis area. Students in the Life Skills classes are included in some WHS classes like agricultural electives and leadership. The Community-Based Instruction gives students in the Winters school district who have a disability of some level an opportunity to develop upon age-appropriate skills for functioning outside the school environment and help prepare them to communicate, engage and work independently, or to the best level of independence possible as their disability allows. Spalding’s mission was to create an opportunity for Life Skills students to actively engage as other students do at a sporting event and to bring awareness to Team Davis’ and the opportunities they provide for families in the area. With help from her peers Kevin Brown, who handled marketing and attaining food for the event, and Aaron Barnett, who played key roles on the day of the event, Spalding’s event came to life. The two-game event brought community members, Winters school district staff and students together to watch as Life Skills students played their heart out on the court. The first game featured WHS athletes Evan Barnett, Alyvia Baylor, Michael Kiefer, Rizwan Fazel and WMS athlete Esteban Arias playing against Team Davis. The Warriors played with enthusiasm as they worked to dribble the ball down the court and never gave up when shooting baskets. Their talent won the spectators over and there were tears of happiness, cheers of excitement and more as each student showed they could do more than what their disability suggested their limitations to be. “I feel this activity gives them a time and a place where they can shine where maybe they don’t shine like other high school kids. I shine through sports and speaking at competitions. A lot of these kids don’t do a lot with the school where they have a time to shine,” Spalding said. “A lot of them were having the time of the lives and they felt like they were really a part of the school where maybe they hadn’t before. I feel it also brought the community together where they can watch these kids play basketball and to watch these kids do something that they didn’t think they could do.” During game one the Warriors held the lead during the the first three quarters of the game. It was during the fourth quarter that Team Davis took the lead with a two-point shot in the last seconds of the game. The final score was Team Davis 24 points to the Warriors 23 points. Spalding said one of her highlights of game one was when Baylor made a shot. “I felt that was so cool because her vision isn’t the strongest. Having a kid who can dribble the basketball and make a shot is so incredible because you never thought that was something she would be able to do,” said Spalding. In game two WHS Life Skills athlete Jose Sanchez played alongside peers Avondre Coleman-Tucker, Nataly Hernandez, Valarie Soto, Jocelyn McMillan, Jorgeluis Fernandez, Darian Lopez, Brown and Spalding as they took on the Team Davis basketball team who regularly plays in tournaments. The second game featured experienced basketball athletes from Team Davis playing against a mix of WHS students with different experience and abilities. Team Davis’ experience playing in Sacramento Special Olympics basketball tournaments was strongly felt by the Warriors as they ran up and down the court. Team Davis held the lead throughout the game and the score was Team Davis 25 points to the Warriors 21 points by the end of the third quarter. Despite their best efforts the Warriors could not catch up and the final score of game two was Team Davis 31 points to the Warriors 25 points. The event helped show the community what the students in the Life Skills class could do when given the opportunity. Spalding said she hopes this event becomes an annual one and would like to see more Special Olympics sports and community partnerships happening in Winters down the road. “I feel this event could bring more talk. It opened their minds to learning more things about these kids and how amazing these kids are,” said Spalding. “Talking to Mr. Ward at the game he said he wants to do this event with more sports: Swimming, flag football, softball. It helped to open eyes to administrators about what these kids can do.” As Winters doesn’t not currently have a special Olympics program Spalding hopes the event can inspire more families to sign their children up to do more, and show the community that kids with disabilities can successfully participate in sports. “They can give their child an opportunity to shine more around town than just seeing them shine this one time,” Spalding said. Spalding said the experience of preparing, planning the event and engaging with Team Davis athletes beforehand has helped her to open her eyes to the different abilities and experiences of its members. She said each individual is different and had different functioning abilities despite the limitations their disability suggests. “I feel I’ve grown as a person and my eyes and mind were opened up more,” she said. “I feel like I understand more now.” After graduation she plans to attend Solano Community College, where she will be a member of their swim team and study psychology and political science. She said her dream job is to be a prosecuting attorney. She said the experience has helped her because in the profession she would be working with different individuals and cases and each one will be a different experience. “Having to know how to deal with the different kind of differences will help me in the future. I feel my dream of being a prosecuting attorney will help me to give a voice to someone who doesn’t have a voice,” said Spalding.]]>

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