Basketball, golf events kick off Celebrate Ability Week at MU

Monday, September 27, 2010 | 8:21 p.m. CDT
Members of the Tiger Wheelchair Basketball team and guests trying out wheelchairs shoot around the courts on Monday at the MU Student Recreation Complex.

COLUMBIA — In celebration of the 20th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, MU is hosting Celebrate Ability Week, which started Monday.

On Monday there was a Tiger Wheelchair Basketball open house and an adaptive golf demonstration. This gave students a chance to simulate adaptive golf and play basketball from a wheelchair.

Other events this week

  • Tuesday: A wheelchair rugby demonstration at the MU Student Recreation Complex, as well as a forum sponsored by the Chancellor's Diversity Initiative and the Office of Disability Services. The forum will address how disability-related issues at MU affect people.
  • Wednesday: A Celebrate Ability Fair at Lowry Mall from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. In the evening there will be a showing of the movie "Murderball" in Jesse Auditorium. An actor from the film, Mark Zupan, will be there to talk about his experiences as a wheelchair rugby player.
  • Thursday: A Celebrate Ability Reception with refreshments and music by Grand Pause Tonic, a student band. Missouri Supreme Court Judge Richard B. Teitelman, the first person with blindness to serve on the court, will be speaking.
  • Friday: Two showings of the movie "Date Night" at 7 and 9:30 p.m at Jesse Wrench Auditorium. Both movies will have audio descriptions and captioning to aid people with sight and hearing impairments.

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Dany Baker, a consultant for adaptive golf and a golf instructor, led the demonstrations. A focus of the clinic was the SoloRider, which is a golf cart made for people with disabilities. Students were encouraged to take swings from the cart, where the seat was on an angle and they had to strap themselves in so only their toes touched the ground.

Baker said it's important for golf courses to provide carts that are accessible for people with disabilities.

"People can do activities out of their chair, but it’s not the same if you don’t have a cart," Baker said.

Baker became involved in this event because of his friend Jerry Hitzhusen, an associate professor in the department of parks, recreation and tourism at MU.

Hitzhusen was one of the founders of the wheelchair basketball team. He played basketball at MU and has played golf most of his life.

"I’m an advocate, period," Hitzhusen said. "At the university I worked hard on the Americans with Disabilities Act. That’s why (people with disabilities) have seating at the football stadium now."

When more members of the basketball team arrived with their game wheelchairs, people were invited to sit in them and experience the game of basketball in a different light. The team offered guidance on how to operate the wheelchairs and engaged in pickup games with the participants.

Troy Balthazor, an ADA specialist and professor in the department of parks, recreation and tourism , is a chairman of the weeklong event. He said it took about a year to plan.

"The main thing is that people notice the word 'ability' in the title," he said. "Disability is the one minority segment of the population that anyone can enter at any time."

The rest of the week will include forums, seminars, movies, demonstrations and a reception.

Missourian reporter Amrita Jayakumar contributed to this report.

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