It’s basketball time with Les Bleues!
The NYPD Office of Community Affairs partnered with the Office of Patrol Services for a fun basketball event in honor of Disability Pride Month on July 30 in the Bronx.
Half a dozen wheelchairs lined the walls of the gymnasium at the Woodstock/South Bronx PAL Center located at 991 Longwood Ave. in preparation for two basketball games, one where the officers took on the NYC Rolling Fury – a wheelchair basketball team – and the other a playoff against members of the Lexington School for the Deaf.
This summer, the NYPD took its role in creating an inclusive environment even further with its youth summer employment program, enrolling 20 completely deaf teens and 10 hearing impaired teens, along with 11 other people with autism and learning disabilities.
“We want to do something good for Disability Pride Month and this is a great example of that, being able to get young people out in wheelchairs and bringing the Lexington school basketball teams to the deaf and let them really meet some of our officers who are really here to try to reduce crime but also to engage the community,” said Alden Foster, director of youth services and community engagement at NYPD Community Affairs Bureau.
Inclusiveness has become a driving force for Foster in her ongoing effort to ensure the NYPD has a place for everyone.
“Today we are really looking to show the disability community that the NYPD cares about us and we are doing a lot of different things to get them involved. crime. When we think about public safety, it’s a shared responsibility and I think people sometimes forget about the disability community,” Foster added.
The first match was between members of the Lexington School for the Deaf (many of whom work with the NYPD under the Youth Summer Jobs Program). These youngsters proved to be tough competitors, leading against the officers for almost both halves of their game; however, the NYPD won by just a few points.
Heriberto Alomonte, a SYEP employee from Lexington School for the Deaf was excited to play against the officers in his first basketball game against the NYPD. It is fortunate that the department works to raise awareness and equal opportunity for the disability community.
“I feel like everyone can participate. All members of the disability community can participate in sports and you should be proud of your disability. This event will help the disabled community who want more accessibility to opportunities, even if it’s sports,” Alomonte said with the help of ASL translator, Officer Angel Familia.
NYC Fury vs. NYPD
Emma D’Antonio has always been a vibrant and active little girl attending dance and gymnastics classes, but in 2018 she started to feel a strange numbness in her legs, then 24 hours later she became paralyzed from the neck down. D’Antonio suffered from acute flaccid myelitis (AFM), a rare disease affecting 1 in 1 million children that is similar to poliomyelitis affecting his motor neurons in his spinal cord.
She spent nearly six months at St. Mary’s Children’s Hospital in Bayside undergoing extensive rehab, slowly regaining control of her body apart from her left leg. Just when D’Antonio thought all hope was lost in his fight to get active again, his mother, Valarie, heard about a wheelchair basketball demonstration at Queens College—NYC Rolling Fury.
“Before I got this I was doing gymnastics and I was doing dance and then I thought I wasn’t going to be able to perform like anything. And I just had to stay home, but now I can do anything,” D’Antonio said happily, preparing for his match against the NYPD.
“So these are opportunities for her to participate in sports that she wouldn’t normally have access to,” D’Antonio said.
The NYPD Basketball Tournament saw officers strapped into wheelchairs in an attempt to compete against the NYC Rolling Fury, but the speed and skill of the guest team saw officers struggling to keep up, not to mention shopping. The youngest member of the team is five years old and their oldest player is 17, and each player has shown their talent. As the NYPD lost, they were all smiles applauding the power of the NYC Rolling Fury.