More than 100 players from 18 teams took part in a Special Olympics Ontario Four Corners basketball tournament hosted by Upper Canada College on April 27.
Fifteen UCC boys volunteered to help with the tournament along with more than 20 Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment volunteers and 10 Metro Toronto police officers. A number of students, staff and faculty members watched the action along with family members of the players, all of whom have varying degrees of intellectual disabilities.
The level of play varied pretty widely, as some kids needed direction while others were highly competitive and talented ballers.
The Four Corners initiative strives to be a welcoming and fun sport environment where youth have the opportunity to participate in high level competition. Athletes of all skill and experience levels are encouraged to participate as teams are placed in appropriate divisions. The UCC tournament was one of nine regional qualifying competitions being held around Ontario to determine who will take part in the provincial championships in May.
This was the third time that the Special Olympics has been hosted by UCC. It was spearheaded by Old Boy and Upper School geography teacher Craig Parkinson ’94 as part of his community service programming initiative.
The initiative is also connected to a broader Year 1 program that sees civics classes interact with developmentally delayed students three times during the academic year.
Parkinson and Horizons director Jyoti Sehgal are engaged in an action research project with the International Boys School Coalition (IBSC) that’s investigating the impact that contact and interaction with developmentally delayed students has on boys’ levels of empathy and respect for diversity. Parkinson and Sehgal will present the findings of their research in June during the 23rd IBSC annual conference in Vancouver.