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Adaptive and paralympic sport experience comes to LaPlace

LAPLACE — People of all ages, with or without disabilities, can experience the fun of boccia training and wheelchair basketball this month in a free community event.

The Adaptive and Paralympic Sport Experience will be held from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. June 15 at New Wine Christian Fellowship in LaPlace, giving participants a chance to stay fit and learn from one another.

Helping children and veterans stay physically active became a driving focus for Dahlia Tate-Rainey of LaPlace after she returned from serving in Iraq.

“I had a really difficult time assimilating back into my life, and it took a while, but I’m doing better,” Tate-Rainey said. “When I came back from Iraq, I was trying to see what I could do to give back to the community. I also wanted to keep my mind active and help children and veterans keep moving.”

Tate-Rainey formed Kidz Fitness Solutionz Inc. in 2014 to offer tennis, pilates, tai chi and other athletic opportunities not traditionally offered to the community.

Unfortunately, serious health struggles put her mission on hold.

She started back up this year and recently partnered with Grind Time Boxing in Reserve to offer springtime classes.

Partnerships with SMCL Foundation, based in New Orleans, and New Wine Christian Fellowship of LaPlace are fueling Tate-Rainey’s second community outreach of 2019.

Sign up is available on-site at 1929 W. Airline Highway, and lunch will be provided.

Boccia training starts at 9 a.m. and lasts through noon, followed by wheelchair basketball from 1 to 4 p.m.

Boccia involves three colored balls: red and blue team colors and a white “jack.” The objective is to get your team’s color ball the closest to the jack, according to Tate-Rainey.

Those who are not in wheelchairs can sit in regular, stationary chairs to compete.

“It takes no physical activity except the ability to toss the ball and create a strategy with a team or by yourself to win the game,” Tate-Rainey said.

Tate-Rainey said equipment will be provided for wheelchair basketball, and she hopes to enlist support from volunteer coaches to start a team in the near future.

Gloria Holmes tosses a red team boccia ball in the New Wine Christian Fellowship gym.

“I did not realize how much effort it takes just to use your upper body to toss a ball,” Tate-Rainey said. “I have a great respect for those athletes who actually play in a wheelchair.”

SMCL Foundation founder Pastor Julius Lee started coaching wheelchair basketball in the early 2000s. As a quadriplegic Veteran, Lee was dismayed by the tremendous lack of resources available to the disabled.

He formed SMCL Foundation in 2006 to support the Greater New Orleans area with educational and recreational experiences for people with disabilities.

Anyone could benefit from attending the June 15 community event in LaPlace, according to Lee.

Daniel Rome of SMCL and Dahlia Tate-Rainey of Kidz Fitness Solutionz Inc. are teaming together to bring the adaptive and paralympic sport experience in LaPlace.

“We engage anybody and everybody who is interested in learning about adaptive sports,” Lee said. “Whether you have a disability or not, we want everybody to share that experience and learn something about adaptive sports or recreation. If you are disabled, it’s even more opportunity to get out the house, get out of bed and come enjoy a great experience.”

He hopes to see participation from St. John the Baptist Parish elected officials and community groups.

SMCL vice president Daniel Rome said informational booths from the Veterans Administration and the Disabled Veterans Organization will also be on-site June 15 to provide resources to families.

Pastor Neil Bernard of New Wine Christian Fellowship is happy to offer the facility, and he looks forward to working with Tate-Rainey to host more events in the future.

“It’s very important to me because I believe people with disabilities are very close to the heart of God,” Bernard said. “He tells us clearly in the scriptures that when we throw a feast to make sure we open our doors to the hurting, the blind, the crippled and so forth.”

For more information, contact Tate-Rainey at 504-875-6548 or Rome at 504-330-2830.