Laughing. Playing basketball. Drinking Gatorade. Making friends.
What better way to live healthy?
For the past nine weeks, that is exactly how a group of St. Xavier High School students and LADD residents have been spending their Saturday mornings in the gymnasium of Xavier University’s O’Connor Sports Center. They divide into teams for some friendly competition, practice their court skills, and of course save time for lots of joking around and conversation.
David Tripathy is one of many from LADD who has been looking forward to his Saturday mornings at Xavier. “It’s a fun experience, just being a good sport, having fun and getting to know people. That is all that matters,” he told us.
It all began when Patrick Gerard, a junior at St. Xavier whose cousin (Mark Clippinger) serves on LADD’s board, came up with the idea for creating a Club LADD as a school service club. The Club’s purpose is to assist LADD’s Health & Wellness Program, and the Club’s largest project is this ten-week basketball program. Patrick organizes it all.
“For us, our greatest benefit to do this is the relationships we have made with the men from LADD,” he told us. “I have never worked hands on with people who have disabilities before. This experience has taught me a lot. I do not see them as different. I see them as equal.”
Of his new friends, St. Xavier Junior Adam Kammerer, told us, “They are just great people. They don’t care who you are. They are accepting of you and fun to be around. They have taught me to be more open minded about people with disabilities.”
“This has been an absolutely incredible activity on so many levels,” said Kristin Harmeyer, LADD’s Health and Wellness coordinator. “The St. Xavier students are very committed not only to making this a successful program, but also to the relationships they have developed with our men from LADD. Last week there were a number of students who came after taking their SAT tests and one drove all the way here just for the last 15 minutes.
For me, the best part has been seeing the development of meaningful friendships and the growth of LADD participants, some of whom we didn’t think would be here but who are here every week. You see people cheering for and helping one another. Seeing teams of St. Xavier students, LADD staff, and LADD residents sharing passes, making plays and hi-fiving after a job well done – that excitement is contagious!.”
It sure is! And no wonder, the St. Xavier students are already talking about the possibility for a future program with LADD!