Open Hands Hosts Basketball Scrimmage at Miramonte

Natalie Bunting, Staff Writer

Children, teens and adults with special needs from the Contra Costa County area gathered at Miramonte High School to play in a Project Open Hands basketball game.  Campolindo  senior Karina Hissen, founder of Project Open Hands, organized the game.  Project Open Hands is a club that works to raise awareness about the disabled in the Moraga community.

The event included basketball drills and a scrimmage.

According to Hissen, the turnout of athletes was doubled compared to past events. Over 40 athletes participated in the scrimmage.   Project Open Hands hosts about three events during the school year. Prior events included a basketball scrimmage, a Polar Bear plunge, and a baseball scrimmage.

The athletes enjoy participating in the activities.  “They think of it as a rewarding thing because they look up to people like us,” said Hissen.

Around twenty students volunteered at the event.  Sophomore Lindsey Wong said the participants are “just like normal kids. They understand you.” The talent of the disabled participants amazed her, she explained.

Wong said the people who volunteered “were really into it.”  Some of the volunteers included athletes from the Cougar basketball team who are not members of the club.

Senior Kyle Honda said, “It was pretty cool getting to know the disabled kids.”

The club collects donations from members in order to fund events.  Hissen said, “The cost of the event is a lot since we pay for the custodian and medals for the athletes” as well as snacks for the scrimmage.  If the donations from club members are not enough, Hissen’s family provides the rest.

Hissen hopes to find someone that can fill her position in the club for the years ahead.  If she does not find a replacement, she said, “my advisor and I will get all the contact information of the special Olympics basketball team and the challenger League baseball coaches to organize the scrimmages because our goal is to atleast continue the scrimmages.”

In all, Hissen feels like the learning center at Campolindo has put in a lot of support for her club. She said that most of the volunteers have never interacted with students with special needs before.