Families with physically challenged children can now look to the South Side for a sport venue especially designed with those youngsters in mind.
In September, the Harlandale Independent School District and Believe It Foundation provided a sneak preview to Bankshot Basketball, a unique, all-inclusive and adapted court, which enables and encourages play between people of all abilities.
“By giving physically challenged and typical children and teens the opportunity to play together, it allows for each to discover and to understand the other’s unique skills and gifts,” Andrew McAllister, founder of the foundation, said in the news release.
It’s located at Jewel Wietzel Center, 9131 Yett Drive, near Schulze Elementary School and across the walking track from Kingsborough Middle School.
Resembling a miniature golf course, Bankshot contains 21 baskets, each with a backboard requiring a different banked shot to score, according to a news release.
Players use the basket and backboard together to put the ball through the hoop. As they proceed, shooters experience increasing degrees of difficulty.
The court itself is stationary, so no running, legwork or jumping is required. Participants play alongside, not against, each other.
This creates an atmosphere of equality, nondiscrimination, accessibility and nonaggression, according to Believe It Foundation, an Alamo Heights nonprofit that promotes the inclusion of physically challenged children.
Concepts of defense, offense and defeat are nonexistent at Bankshot. Neither up-close play nor teams are required.
“Learning how to engage, interact and befriend people who are different from you is an invaluable life lesson for everyone,” McAllister said.
Believe It Foundation, The Greehey Family Foundation and Spaulding Family Foundation Trust funded the court’s development in Harlandale.
“We are tremendously grateful to The Greehey Family Foundation and Spaudling Family Trust for helping us to further our mission of inclusion by bringing a fun, active, safe and inclusive activity to the Harlandale community where people of all abilities may come to play and be active together,” McAllister said.
Believe It Foundation has worked closely with HISD since 2018 when they partnered to launch an adaptive bicycles-in-schools program, Believe It Bikes, which will be in 10 Bexar County school districts by the end of the 2020-2021 academic year.
“We are thrilled to have such a unique and inclusive sports system available to our community that will encourage people of all abilities to get out and be active together,” Della Taylor, HISD special-education director, said in the release.
District 3 Councilwoman Rebecca Viagran noted the venue “gives me so much energy because it’s something that’s needed, not just on the South Side, but all parts of San Antonio — these inclusive playgrounds and courts — for all of our community.”
Viagran praised HISD and Believe It Foundation for collaborating to bring the site to the South Side. She hopes this will spur similar partnerships creating inclusive, adapted courts and playgrounds elsewhere.
“I am so proud of Harlandale ISD stepping up and saying, ‘Yes, we’re ready, we know we can do this. We know people need this,’” she added.
Because of public-health guidelines prompted by the COVID-19 pandemic, the court currently isn’t available for use, but the district hopes to open it soon during school hours.
When restrictions are eased, it will be accessible to the public on weekends and after school, district officials said.