By Joseph Pratt
More than 50 kids are showing how capable they are through the Just for Fun Bowling League, which began its sixth season recently, after closing registration for the 2015-16 season.
Just for Fun Bowling League was started as a way to fill in the gap of winter sports for children with physical and developmental disabilities. The area already had sports to fill the spring and summer months, between the Basketball and Baseball Challenger Leagues.
To fill the blank space, parents Teresa Ketchell and Pam Bell decided to start a program that would allow the kids to hit the lanes.
The bowling league is treated like any other, with a point system, but catered more around the needs of the individuals. Some of the players rely on bumpers to keep the ball from hitting the gutter, others need a metal ramp to help drop the ball, and some just need the support of friends and family.
“It is the same as any other league and the children score points,” Just for Fun Bowling League Public Relations Coordinator Mike Bell, said. “They just need a little bit of support. We have ramps that students move and rotate where they want the ball to go and they then just push it down. The awesome thing is to watch these kids use bumpers and ramps, but end up growing into being able to send the ball off without any help.”
Bell explained that the physical therapy benefits from the program are coupled with many others.
“The benefits from this is numerous. They get exercise from it, they receive therapy, and they have the opportunity to grow with friends,” Bell said. “It is truly awesome for socializing.”
Each kid is put on a team and receives a team shirt in their designated color. They also get prints of their scores so they can follow their progress. Bell said he and his associates strive to make the league as true to the sport as possible.
“We want the experience to be fun for the kids, but also something that helps them,” Bell said. “The first thing you notice about this program is the growth. I’ve seen these children grow. They aren’t sitting at home, playing on a PlayStation. They are out there, playing with friends and being kids. It is great.”
The Just for Fun Bowling League operates between the months of September and February at Sunset Bowling Lanes. The games are limited to students between the ages of 5 and 22. There are no limitations as to who can play; the bowling league will find a way to adapt around the needs of each player.
Students have to register before the season, but the group invites guests to come and watch the process. They meet every other Saturday at 3 p.m. The next meet will be held on October 10. The group also strives to keep the prices fair, charging only a seasonal fee of $35 and a registration fee of $15.
Reach Joseph Pratt at 740-353-3101, ext. 1932
Brendon Johnson and parent Kim Pemberton participating in Just for Fun Bowling