“The biggest difference for many of my students was learning the word ‘yet’, that the game isn’t over until everyone rolls their balls, and to celebrate every bit of progress you make each day. The first couple of sessions I had two athletes who couldn’t roll the ball more than 10 feet but are now able to roll it from one end of the court to the other.”
Jardon, a post-high school transition program for young adults with special educational needs, strives to assist students in increasing their independence, socialisation, self-regulation and employability.
“I have some athletes with cognitive impairments and some with autism; under each category we have athletes that are verbal and some that use communication devices,” says Ms Renkiewicz.
“It is wonderful to see athletes pulling out their communication devices to state that they have the closest ball and the other’s being patient and responding to the use of the devices.”
Prior to the Packabocce courts’ arrival, Jardon only played bocce ball once a year – at their annual field day celebration – without the court walls that are central to traditional bocce.
Now, with their new inflatable bocce ball courts, Jardon has exciting plans in place for the sport. Next school year the school will get the ball rolling earlier, with practices beginning in fall rather than spring.
“Our athletes want to challenge the staff in the building and the district administrators to get some practice against other people before we begin playing as part of an organised Special Olympics program next spring,” Ms Renkiewicz says. “We hope to host multiple team matches and have fellow students and families watching.”
Students at Jardon eagerly participate on and off the bocce ball court. Announcers, photographers, national anthem singers and pep squads create a fun and electric atmosphere for athletes and spectators alike.
Packaworld CEO Peter Roberts says he is delighted Packabocce courts are making the joy of sport accessible to everyone.
“It’s fantastic to hear about the positive impact bocce ball is having on students at Jardon Vocational School and how much fun they are having together in the process of learning,” Mr Roberts says. “That’s what sport is all about, and I’m delighted our Packabocce courts have a key role in such an inspiring story.”