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Youth group uses basketball to connect with disabled teens

Inclusion & understanding: A life-changing lesson courtesy of some game-changing kids.

HOUSTON — Here at KHOU11 News, 'Standing For Houston' means celebrating our differerences and giving people a shout out when they step up!

So when we heard dozens of teen boys were doing everything they could too be more inclusive, well... we had to share their story! 

"It's a whole different ball game," said Ben Yifrach who is a senior at Bellaire High School.  He helped to organize the 7th annual Randy Reisbord AZA Wheelchair Basketball Tournament.  

Money raised through registration and sponsorships benefits TIRR Memorial Hermann and its wheelchair basketball team called Hotwhweels! 

Credit: Memorial Hermann

"The rules are different," said players Daniel Johary.  

"The main thing, to me, is how hard it is on your arms," said player Morgan Rosenbaum. 

Playing basketball in a wheelchair is no joke.  The tournament benefits able-bodied players and those who need a wheelchair to get around.  It provides perspective and understanding and an opportunity to make new friends. 

"It’s amazing," said TIRR Memorial Hermann player Rodrigo Linares.  "It’s the best feeling you can have in the world."

Inclusion is why the tournament was created in the first place. 

"It’s a big way that we can directly put ourselves in someone else’s seat," said Yifrach. 

Seven years ago Abraham Hausman-Weiss was a member of the Randy Reisbord AZA youth group.  Hausman-Weiss played wheelchair basketball in high school and his youth group friends wanted to play with him.  So, they created a tournament that requires all players to sit in a wheelchair. 

Credit: Randy Reisbord AZA
The Emery/Weiner School's Abraham Hausman-Weiss, who is headed to Alabama this fall where he'll continue playing wheelchair basketball.

In seven years the tournament's grow from a handful of teams to more than a dozen. 

"Most people with disabilities won’t come and say I want to be included, because I think as a society, everyone wants to be included," said Peggy Turner who is an adaptive sports coach with TIRR Memorial Hermann.  "To come together and demonstrate for all of us adults what life should be like."

It's a life-changing lesson, courtesy of some game-changing kids. 

To donate to the Randy Reisbord AZA: 

Our names are Morgan Rosenbaum and Ben Yifrach, and we are leaders of our BBYO chapter, Reisbord AZA of Lonestar Region. BBYO is an international non-profit youth movement that provides Jewish high school teenagers with a social network as well as opportunities to develop leadership skills, estab...