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Granada Hills : Schools Score Points for the Disabled

They took a break from classes and spun their wheels trying to play basketball.

Dressed in red and white jerseys, nine teachers and about 20 disabled students at Porter Middle School in Granada Hills challenged the Miller High School Wheelchair Basketball Varsity All-Stars to a game of wheelchair basketball Friday to celebrate National Handicapped Awareness Month.

The Reseda-based Miller’s team, which practices an hour a day, came to Porter wearing blue and white, ready to play, even bringing 14 cheerleaders. Porter’s team of teachers and disabled students, on the other hand, was playing together for the first time.

But to the students, who have varying degrees of disabilities, that didn’t matter.

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“I just like that there’s no pressure,” Miller’s Barry (the Beast) Cheifer said about the game. “I try to have fun and enjoy the companionship.”

A crowd of about 400 Porter students who attended the hourlong game performed the wave to cheer on its losing team. The players, trying to maneuver their wheelchairs, sped around the outdoor court, stealing balls and hassling each other, laughing all the while.

“It was fun. I almost scored,” seventh-grader Luis Galvez said. “It’s harder when people are on you. It’s harder to shoot.”

About once a month, Miller’s wheelchair team is invited to compete against other schools. Porter’s principal, Sherry Breskin, thought it would be a good idea to bring the students together.

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“It’s so interesting to watch people who have it all together try to emulate what it’s like in a wheelchair,” Breskin said of the non-disabled participants. “They have a deeper respect.”

Of the disabled students, she said: “These kids know there are no easy solutions; they’re always struggling.”

Even with a home-court advantage and a few assists from a referee, Porter lost, 18-8.


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