All-STAR Buddies hold basketball event

Posted on 25 April 2019 by LeslieM

By Gary Curreri

The City of Deerfield Beach Parks & Recreation Department’s All-STAR Buddies program in partnership with the Special Olympics recently hosted the inaugural “Choose to Include” Basketball Event at the Oveta McKeithen Recreational Complex.

Kenny Lawrence, who runs the special needs All-STAR Buddies programs for the City of Deerfield Beach, said the one-day event empowered athletes of all ages and abilities to engage in a fun, safe environment with an emphasis on sportsmanship. Approximately 150 people throughout the county attended the event.

Throughout the day, special needs athletes were helped by Buddies in the games and, at the conclusion, every special player received a Special Olympics Florida T-shirt and a medal.

With the central theme of breaking down social barriers for individuals with special needs, the event included basketball games, a family festival, along with a dance.

“The concept of unified programming allows for individuals who don’t have a disability compete alongside those who do,” Lawrence pointed out. “This concept helps promote unity and acceptance which is what the city’s program, All-STAR Buddies, was based around.”

The city also presented Buddy Benches at this event. The Buddy Benches were created as a part of an anti-bully movement the city has adopted. 

“Children from each of the city’s aftercare programs decorated these benches,” Lawrence said. “The benches will eventually be installed throughout the city and neighboring schools, including Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. The bench being installed at Stoneman Douglas was created as a memorial bench in honor of the 17 who lost their lives last year.” 

“I created the idea of this event as a way to share with the community a program that I fell in love with while working with the Special Olympics over the last 12 years,” Lawrence said. “Outside of being a head coach for the Special Olympics, I am also a unified player on a basketball and volleyball team. I’ve been blessed with the opportunity over the years to work side by side by my idols and wanted to share this experience with everyone.”

Among those who attended the event was Lawrence’s close friend, Kevin Sutton, host of the Kevin Sutton Show for ESPN sports talk radio out of Orlando. Sutton and his family made the trip down from Orlando to spend the day with the kids and announce the basketball games.

Lawrence said the program known as All-STAR Buddies started August 2018.

“The program was created to be an all inclusive program designed to promote inclusion and acceptance for all participants,” he said. “The program allows for everyone to join regardless of having a disability or not and provides a safe non-judgmental environment that encourages socialization and understanding.”

Here’s a list of the programs All-STAR Buddies currently offers and their locations: basketball (Oveta McKeithen Recreational Complex), soccer (Middle School Athletics Complex), track (Middle School Athletics Complex), kickball (Oveta McKeithen Recreational Complex), photography (Hillsboro Community Center), fishing (Deerfield Beach International Fishing Pier), art (Highlands Community Center), music (Teen Center), bowling (Strikes in Boca) and clay animation (Hillsboro Community Center).

Clay Animation is a class that brings clay to life using older cartoon techniques in creating videos out of individual still frames using cameras.

The city also offers S.T.R.E.A.M. (Constitution Park). This class offers a different themed project each week based off of the class’s abbreviated name. Week 1 – Science, Week 2 – Technology, Week 3 – Recreation, Week 4 – Engineering, Week 5 – Art, Week 6 – Math.

“These are six-week programs that run throughout the year,” Lawrence said. “Each class is based out of a different location throughout the city. It was designed this way to provide the All-STAR Buddy programming throughout the city.”

Currently, the city is working on its summer camp programs which start June 10 and will run through Aug. 2. This summer’s All-STAR Buddy summer camp program will run Monday through Friday from 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.

“This will be the first time the city has offered a full camp for individuals with special needs,” Lawrence added. “As for future programming, we are planning on adding several new programs to the year as well, including future ‘Choose To Include’ events.”

For more information on the Buddies programs, contact Lawrence via e-mail at klawrence@deerfield-beach.com.

Comments are closed.

Advertise Here
Advertise Here

front page

COVER