By James Rioux
November 8th, 2016-Canton
“Do not let what you cannot do interfere with what you can do” ~ Coach John Wooden.
Back Row-Left to Right: Tammy Duarte (MTC), Denise Vega, David Duarte, Daniel Calis, Robert Blood, Allen Clang Middle Row-Left to Right: Tina Anthony, David Brouillette, Michael Rosano, Donald Dufresne, Steve Kennedy
Former basketball player and NCAA coach John Wooden holds the record for most consecutive champions won, at an astounding seven. But, what is most notable about this coach is not his record but his advice. Wooden coached with overarching positivity and a “can do” mantra that all coaches, and players strive for. The Pappas Rehabilitation School also subscribes to a similar philosophy, and the Department of Correction is honored to play a small role in putting it into practice. For nearly a decade the Department of Correction has shared a special bond with the children and staff of the Pappas Rehabilitation Hospital for Children (PRHC), formerly the Massachusetts Hospital School. There is a healthy competition of “can do” on the courts of the campus where patients of the Hospital compete against Department of Correction staff in various sporting events. From football to basketball, the players have a connection that is rooted in a genuine interest in building meaningful partnerships outside of their community, sharing their love for friendly competition, and most importantly following the “can do” way of living.
PRHC is a pediatric chronic care hospital for children, adolescents, and young adults ages 8-22. Their mission is to provide medical, rehabilitative, educational, recreational, transitional, and complementary alternative medical services to children and young adults with multiple disabilities, assisting them to achieve their optimal level of independence in all aspects of life. The games are an integral part of the independence of the children. It is often said “sports do not build character, they reveal it”. This can be seen firsthand at PRHC.
Superintendent Daniel Calis who has been volunteering at the school since the games were first established, states that this community outreach initiative has grown into a competitive but friendly rivalry between our two agencies. Calis states he feels “fortunate to have been given the opportunity to be a part of such an amazing experience. There is a brotherhood and camaraderie between the players that cannot be described. It’s a really special thing.” Through the years, Superintendent Calis and his staff have competed in different types of wheelchair sporting events including football, basketball, and hockey.
Brian, 21, who has been a student at the school for many years and is living with Cerebral Palsy (CP), a disorder that affects muscle tone, movement, and motor skills states he looks forward to the competitive matchups with the DOC. In the wheelchair football game held at the school on Tuesday, November 8th, Brian played on both sides of the ball (offense and defense) making key stops on the court and scoring a touchdown in the 35-35 tie. Brian, like his classmates, is an excellent example of persistence and overcoming adversity- Brian has the can do attitude.
Brian Devin, PRHC CEO describes the partnership with the DOC as significant in the lives of these children, noting how the kids “light up” when they see members of a correctional agency challenge them on their home court. Devin can see the impact that sporting events and feeling like a part of team does for his students. “Every child wants to be part of team, to compete, to be a player at some point. These games give the kids that chance.” He extends his appreciation to the DOC for playing such a vital role in his students’ lives and for participating in the experiences that reveal their “can do” potential.
If you are a parent or guardian of a disabled child, adolescent, or young adult and are interested in learning more about the services PRHC can provide, Mr. Devin invites you to call him directly at 781-830-8427. You can also find PRHC on the web at www.mhsf.us. If you are employed by the DOC and would like to participate at an upcoming PRHC event or would like to learn more information about the PRHC, contact Tina Anthony at 508-279-4511. If you would like to make a donation to the school checks can be made payable to MHSF at the Pappas Rehabilitation Hospital for Children 3 Randolph St. Canton, MA 02021. The PRHC also accepts donations of prom clothing for their annual prom. Donations can be dropped off at the above address.