Special clinic for special needs kids

The young women on Monroe College’s Lady Mustangs showed recently that they can excel in the community as well as on the court.
The Lady Mustangs held a basketball clinic for special needs children when they came to the Samuel Field Y in Little Neck on December 21. It was an afternoon of drills, drives, fun and fundamentals.
“The kids have a lot of fun and a good time learning about basketball and the girls have a great time teaching,” said Lady Mustangs coach Seth Goodman. “They are always in student mode and this is a good opportunity for them to get into teacher mode.”
Goodman also said he was thrilled to be able to come to the Y and share his love of basketball with the extraordinary young people at this event. The youngsters playing alongside this elite college team are enrolled in the Y’s Afterschool Special Services Program, which is made of kids with disabilities.
“Sports are important for all children, no matter who they are,” said Goodman, whose father Steven is the executive director of the Y. “For these kids that basically live in their own world, we need to be compassionate but still offer them the opportunity to play.”
Now in his 10th season at Monroe, Goodman has led his team to a 9-2 record this season, and an overall record of 245-34. He’s transformed the Lady Mustangs into one of the nation’s most successful women’s basketball teams and he believes that the Y has had a lot to do with his success.
“This organization has meant a lot to me,” he said. “Today is an especially rewarding day for me.”
Jeri Mendelsohn, associate executive director of the Samuel Field Y, said that events like this expose these children to activities and experiences that they would otherwise not get a chance to enjoy.
“We specialize in a culture of inclusion at the Y,” said Mendelsohn, who noted that many neurotypical children were also participating in the event. “It is just so cool to see kids of all different abilities working on their skills together.”
More events are soon to follow as the Queens College women’s team will hold a similar basketball clinic on January 13.
Mendelsohn believes that the teams that come to work with children might just find out they have a knack for teaching, as well as basketball. She also said that it is an opportunity for young women to form a meaningful relationship with their community.
“These young women might find a love of teaching through this event,” she said. “So it’s a win-win for everybody.”

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