Bounce Out the Stigma basketball clinic set for Aug. 27 in Newark

Bounce Out the Stigma is a day-long basketball program founded and led by former Harlem Wizard Mike Simmel. The program was founded in 2005 and focuses on kids and young adults from 6 to 20 years old who have attention, coordination or neurological issues that may have prevented them from getting involved in sports. The program hosted by the Delaware Jaycees is scheduled for Aug. 27 in Newark. It’s the third year the group has hosted the program. (Submitted photo/Delaware Jaycees)

Bounce Out the Stigma is a day-long basketball program founded and led by former Harlem Wizard Mike Simmel. The program was founded in 2005 and focuses on kids and young adults from 6 to 20 years old who have attention, coordination or neurological issues that may have prevented them from getting involved in sports. The program hosted by the Delaware Jaycees is scheduled for Aug. 27 in Newark. It’s the third year the group has hosted the program. (Submitted photo/Delaware Jaycees)

DOVER –– Many times, kids and young adults with medical, emotional or physical issues feel excluded from sports — but the Delaware Jaycees are giving these people an option with Mike Simmel’s Bounce Out the Stigma basketball clinic on Aug. 27.

The Delaware Jaycees is one chapter of the United States Junior Chamber, an organization which focuses on professional development and improving local communities through service projects.

Bounce Out the Stigma is just one of many events they host annually and the chapter first learned about Bounce Out the Stigma through the U.S. Jaycees seven years ago.

“Mike Simmel was honored as an Outstanding Young American by The United States Junior Chamber in 2009 for making a significant impact toward the advancement of youth that feel they have any sort of stigma,” said Brandy Armiger, a Delaware Jaycee and chairperson of the event.

The program was founded in 2005 by Mr. Simmel, a former featured member of the Harlem Wizards, a basketball team that uses the sport for entertainment. The program was inspired by his personal experiences growing up.

He developed epilepsy when he was 2 years old and it greatly slowed his coordination and motor development so he wasn’t able to run as fast or play as well as his schoolmates and was placed in a special needs gym class.

As his seizures were gradually brought under control, Mr. Simmel’s father would have him play with a basketball to improve his motor skills and coordination and from there, basketball turned into a passion.

But he experienced a setback at his high school basketball camp when he had a breakthrough seizure. The camp directors tried to exclude him from the remainder of the camp after they learned he had epilepsy but Mr. Simmel was insistent on finishing the camp and went on to become a varsity starter for three years.

According to the Bounce Out the Stigma’s website, after the camp directors tried to prevent him from continuing the camp, Mr. Simmel vowed that he would go on to help kids that had been put in a similar situation of exclusion.

After high school, Mr. Simmel played basketball throughout college too and then was featured on the Wizards from 2001 to 2014.

“Sarah Preston of the Wilmington Jaycees had a vision to bring a program to the Delaware Jaycees that would allow the organization to provide more opportunities for persons with disabilities and have an outlet for social or extracurricular activities,” Ms. Armiger said.

She added that Bounce Out the Stigma seemed like a perfect project for the vision and after the Delaware Jaycees met Mr. Simmel in 2014, the board made a unanimous decision to bring the program to Delaware and Delaware’s first Bounce Out the Stigma program was held in December, 2014.

“Bounce Out The Stigma is unique in that we submerge children in basketball activities that they have not experienced because of the limitations others placed on these kids in the past. In developing a new skill set through motor drills, our campers are taught to aim higher, tackling everyday challenges and troubles with greater confidence,” Ms. Armiger said.

“The camp is not a specialty camp nor does it make children feel isolated. The campers can all relate to Mike Simmel and his personal story and will use that as motivation to get the most our of their own individual experiences.”

The camp is geared toward kids and young adults from 6 to 20 years old. It’s scheduled for Aug. 27 at the Wilmington University Sports Complex in Newark from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Only 30 slots are available so preregistration is required and can be completed online at delawarejaycees.org/event-registration/bounce-out-the-stigma. The last day to register is Aug. 24.

Reach staff writer Ashton Brown at abrown@newszap.com. Follow @AshtonReports on Twitter.

You are encouraged to leave relevant comments but engaging in personal attacks, threats, online bullying or commercial spam will not be allowed. All comments should remain within the bounds of fair play and civility. (You can disagree with others courteously, without being disagreeable.) Feel free to express yourself but keep an open mind toward finding value in what others say. To report abuse or spam, click the X in the upper right corner of the comment box.