Sixers home court perfect backdrop for kids to practice as 76ers host wheelchair basketball clinic

A happy day for talented young people on the court at the Wells Fargo Center, as the 76ers welcomed differently-abled kids for a wheelchair basketball clinic with some talented professionals.

"I’m pretty excited! It was my first time doing basketball in a wheelchair because I normally am not in a wheelchair. I walk with robotic legs, so this is a new experience for me," Chase Merriweather stated.

Merriweather is one of several kids welcomed onto the court in South Philadelphia, excited to take home some new skills. He says being among other kids in this diverse community is quite the treat. "There’s a lot of different people with a lot of skills that they can use to their advantage against other people, like me using a wheelchair."

The kids were brought in, in part by the Challenged Athletes Foundation, a group that has worked tirelessly for decades in empowering those with physical disabilities and helping them lead active lives.

Before the basketball clinic, a special surprise was presented to two unsuspecting young athletes, as two custom wheelchairs were delivered, just in time for basketball season preparation. 11-year-old Robert Deegan was stunned at the mere sight of his new ride.

"You have a pretty cool ride here, what’s going through your head?" FOX 29’s Shaynah Ferreira asked.

Deegan responded, "Is this real?"

"What does this new wheelchair mean for you?" Ferreira went on.

"The start of a new beginning," Deegan answered.

A new beginning that Coach Crystal Jones says is impactful, especially for young, challenged athletes.

"It’s really exciting just to see them on the court. I didn’t have the opportunity to play young as a kid, so the fact that they’ve opened this opportunity and space for them to play on a 76ers court hours before the game was amazing," Coach Jones, with CUNY Wheel Basketball, explained.

Coach Jones was also on the court, showing the young group some cool wheelchair skills. "Showing them some chair skills, some shooting drills and drills they can practice at home on their off time and be ready for whenever they get on their court."

She added the importance of inclusivity and opportunity matters. "It’s important that inclusivity is part of our mainstream and our daily lives so, one it doesn’t become an opportunity for just sometime, but to incorporate it into everything we do."

The clinic was made possible by the generosity of the 76ers and Toyota.