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Georgia kids with special needs hit the basketball court with a former pro

Georgia kids with special needs hit the court
Published: Jun. 20, 2022 at 4:51 PM EDT
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ATLANTA, Ga. (CBS46) - Once a basketball player walks through the doors at North Hall Rec Center in Gainesville, the outside world is behind them.

Within gym walls, players will not know limitation.

They will not know a bully.

They will not hear small minds telling them what they are and are not capable of.

This is Bounce Out the Stigma, a basketball program for kids with special needs.

”I played professionally for 13 years. I run these programs. It is a blessing. It is me, giving back to God. It is just something I love to do,” said Mike Simmel, program founder.

Mike was diagnosed with epilepsy when he was a kid.

”When I was 16 years old, I had a seizure at a basketball camp and the camp decided they wanted to send me home,” said Simmel.

He says his diagnosis has caused some people to put limits on his abilities.

”When I was 6 years old, I couldn’t walk or skip. My dad handed me a basketball and said, ‘Let’s work on your coordination,’” said Simmel, “I dribbled everywhere I went.”

Basketball kept him moving forward. Coordination, mobility and motor skills -- the coaches here at Bounce Out the Stigma are using basketball to empower kids to be all that they want to be, regardless of the voices who might try and tell them otherwise.