By Carol Ann Benanti | firstname.lastname@example.org
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STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — The Integrated Athletic Initiative (The Initiative), a local non-profit organization dedicated to bridging the gap between what they describe as “mainstream, special needs, and underserved populations”, hosted its second free four-week integrated bowling league at Rab’s Country Lanes.
More than 50 participants from PS 57 and Because We Can Sports athletes — many with disabilities — demonstrated the power of sports in creating inclusive communities at the popular Dongan Hills facility at the end of November.
This year’s league was made possible through the support of local businesses, including Nick’s Lobster House and Mack Electric.
Sal Fabozzi, chair of The Integrated Athletic Initiative, expressed his delight at the event’s impact: “It’s truly inspiring to see athletes of all abilities come together, not just to play a sport but to learn from each other,” he said. “The joy and camaraderie witnessed during the league encapsulate the essence of what we strive to achieve – an inclusive community where everyone has the opportunity to participate and thrive.”
Anthony Passalacqua, vice president, emphasized the importance of initiatives in building a more understanding and cohesive society. “Our goal is to create a world where disability is not a barrier to friendship and fun. The enthusiasm and engagement we’ve seen in this league are testaments to the progress we are making towards that goal.”
Mike Cannizzo, the event sponsor and owner of Nick’s Lobster House in Brooklyn and Mack Electric, shared his excitement about being part of the initiative. “Supporting The Integrated Athletic Initiative aligns perfectly with our values at Nick’s Lobster House. We are proud to be part of an event that not only brings smiles to these young faces but also plays a crucial role in promoting inclusivity and acceptance within our community. Being involved with the Integrated Athletic Initiative is a privilege. Seeing the positive impact of our contribution in the community is truly rewarding.”
In addition to bowling, the league included various interactive activities designed to foster teamwork, sportsmanship, and mutual respect among participants.
The event concluded with a celebration where players, families, and community leaders gathered to recognize the achievements of all participants.
Plans for the next league are already under way. The Initiative remains committed to continuing its mission of promoting inclusivity through sports. The Initiative periodically puts on small four-week leagues for bowling, track and field, soccer and basketball.
In what translates into a collaborative effort with Mark’s Bake Shoppe, a Third annual Toy Drive is set for Sunday, Dec. 10 at the shop located at 3479 Richmond Rd. to benefit local schools.
Toys can be dropped off on that day from noon to 3 p.m. at Mark’s Bake Shoppe.
For further information about the Integrated Athletic Initiative and its programs, visit www.integratedathletic.org.