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Wheelchair basketball brings hope to the West Bank

West Bank and Gaza, February 12, 2010

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Chicago Public Radio
February, 2010

Carlee Hoffman is a University of Illinois grad student and Paralympian who wants to empower disabled athletes in the West Bank. The two-time gold medalist was disabled by an accident at age three. Carlee spent time in the West Bank last spring with the humanitarian NGO Mercy Corps to help kick start a Paralympic basketball training.

Out of the 4 million people living in the Palestinian Territories, it’s estimated that between 125,000 and 300,000 are disabled. The disabled face added challenges of less education, fewer job opportunities, discrimination and lack of physical access. They’re often the most isolated and impoverished people in war-torn places like the West Bank. The Mercy Corps’ Sports for Life program works for greater independence and cultural acceptance for the disabled in Palestinian society. At least 600 athletes in the West Bank will benefit from more advanced wheelchair basketball training and better access to sports equipment.

During her stay in the West Bank, Carlee ran training clinics in Bethlehem, Nablus, and Ramallah. Coaches from the University of Illinois brought over coaches from Palestine to train at their facilities. Mike Frogley is one of those coaches and he worked with Foad Mustafa, a Palestinian Wheelchair Basketball coach from Bethlehem. Mike Frogley explains how the program got started…

Listen to the audio interview by clicking here