Something bad happens when young people with disabilities turn 20. Usually their schooling, camp opportunities and therapy sessions end. The good news is that public schools are getting better at integrating their students with disabilities into the classrooms. Boys and girls with disabilities often have the opportunities to go to their prom and participate in many of the social events that public high schools offer.
But when students with a disability leave the high school arena, they tend to graduate to the couch or spend most of their hours on the computer in the basements of their homes. They experience an acute sense of loneliness and isolation. It is extremely tough to find jobs, participate in social activities and maintain meaningful relationships. Going to college seems almost impossible.
Our son Phillip intimately knows these feelings. He spent a year after high school, not sure what direction he was going. All of his friends had fallen away, and his church no longer offered gatherings for young people. More then once, I went into his room to discover him sobbing into his pillow because his friends were gone.He was unsure how to make new ones.
Fortunately, he is able to go to the University of West Georgia and work on developing better friendships with his peers. But it still is a struggle and he wants to change this for everyone. That’s why he has chosen to become an ambassador forAADD and promote integrated recreation programs through bocce ball.
Bocce ball is easy to play, doesn’t cost a lot of money for a court and could encourage everyone to play together. There’s a good chance that this simple game could create friendships, and help people to just have fun together. This is a recipe for success and better community integration.
Watch this video to see Phillip make his presentation about bocce ball. Video by Robin Nelson.