New England Blazers defeat staff in school basketball match

The New England Blazers played the Quincy Dragons in a wheelchair basketball game at the Josiah Quincy Elementary School on Feb. 2. (Image courtesy of Shira Laucharoen.)

Spirits soared and children cheered during a basketball game between the New England Blazers wheelchair basketball team and the Quincy Dragons, held at the Josiah Quincy Elementary School gym on Feb. 2. The Blazers won the match with a score of 78-72 during the school’s third annual wheelchair basketball game.

“We have a huge population of physically handicapped students, and we wanted to show awareness and that even though you may be born handicapped or have gotten hurt, you can still do what you love,” said organizer and head of the physical education department Thomas Levett.

Students from preschool through fifth grade watched the event, chanting “no more homework!” and dancing in the bleachers while speakers played rousing music. The Quincy Dragons, a team composed of 15 teachers, paraprofessionals and staff members, tossed the ball and slid across the court in wheelchairs. Principal Cynthia Soo Hoo also participated in the game.

The New England Blazers team was organized in 1992 as a way of giving physically disabled individuals a chance to engage in athletic activities. They are an affiliate of the National Wheelchair Basketball Association, an organization whose members compete in the Paralympic Games and the World Championships.

“I come here for the pace of the game and the competition, the comradery,” said Blazers team member Chris Johnson, who has been with the team for 10 years. “It is important to show that there are no limits to what you can do, regardless of your situation, and your limits go as far as your mind.”

JQES is a wheelchair-accessible public school in Boston’s Chinatown. It will continue to hold wheelchair basketball games to inspire students and teach them that handicaps do not have to restrict your dreams.

“This game is fantastic – the kids are enthused, and they are very attuned to our game,” said Blazers coach Paul Cowlin, who has been playing basketball for more than 40 years. “They see us do everyday life. One thing I like to tell them is that what you do on your feet, we can do in a wheelchair!”

Team members fought for the ball during the match, which has been held at the school for the past three years. (Image courtesy of Shira Laucharoen.)

Students watched the game and cheered from the sidelines. (Image courtesy of Shira Laucharoen.)

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