As the Port Washington Police Athletic League (PAL) looked to expand their program offerings, the organization found a need in the Port and Town of North Hempstead community for a sports program for children with special needs. Executive director Rob Elkins, along with PAL board members, will be starting the league’s first ever All Children Excel in Sports (ACES) program specifically designed for children with differing abilities and skill levels for the summer.
“There are a few programs out there like this, but there aren’t too many in Port,” said board member Diana Polvere. “We wanted there to be a program in Port and we wanted it to be very inclusive for children of different abilities. It would be designed as an applied athletic program and focus on developmental skills that will lead to the ability to play different sports.”
Led by head coach Eric Silver, who has a masters in adaptive physical education and 25 years of experience working with children with special needs, the program will focus on basic athletic skills like running, jumping, kicking, throwing and core strengthening exercises. The skills learned in the program can be applied to different sports including soccer, kickball, baseball and basketball as the program progresses. Along with the head coach, a staff of local volunteers will work with the children in small groups or one-on-one depending on the group sizes.
“We just started promoting this and we’ve had a really wonderful response,” explained Polvere. “There’s been a lot of interest. We really feel what we’ve heard is that there’s such a need and we really want to be aware of the community’s needs.”
The eight-week program runs June 10 through 29 at Sunset Park, 325 Main St., on Sundays from 11 to 11:45 a.m. for children ages 4 to 7, and 12 to 12:45 p.m. for children ages 8 through 12. The cost of the program is $175 per child, however PAL offers sibling discounts.
“PAL has always been very inclusive for all children since their inception, but there are some kids where having to join a team or a sport just dones’t work for them,” said Port Washington Special Education Parent Teacher Association co-president and special education teacher Jennifer Scotto-Robinson. “So when Diana came to me and said PAL is interested in creating a special needs program, I jumped right on it. I have a son who has special needs and being on a team doesn’t work for him. I’m excited there is going to be something for him.”
For more information about the ACES program or to register, visit www.pwpal.org.