On April 28 the kinesiology department and academic fraternity Phi Epsilon Kappa hosted the annual Manhattan College Games in Draddy Gymnasium. The games are an event for people of all ages who have mental or physical disabilities where participants are guided through a series of non-competitive games.
Throughout the event participants from different neighboring agencies had the opportunity to be involved in different sports, some being modified to fit the needs of these participants. Some of the agencies that came to the Manhattan College Games included the Kingsbridge Heights Community Center and Advocates for the Blind.
The sports that were implemented into the event included bowling, soccer, volleyball and basketball. All of which were modified versions to allow all participants the opportunity to partake in each activity.
The Manhattan College Games started in 1979 and have been held annually at Manhattan College since then. Since its founding the presidents and faculty advisor of Phi Epsilon Kappa, the academic fraternity, have aided in organizing the event along with the support of the kinesiology department and other volunteers from the MC community.
According to Tedd Keating, Ph.D. an associate professor of kinesiology, reflects on how he believes the games came to be and states “I think [the founders] saw a need for non-competitive activities for local persons with disabilities.”
This need, that Keating believes the founders saw when creating the Manhattan College Games, was that in the past there weren’t many events or activities for people who have disabilities. “There wasn’t much back then, and even now, there’s a need for just getting people with disabilities more active in the area.”
Although there is much preparation that must be done in order for the day of activities to be enjoyable for the participants, Keating emphasizes how the volunteers have just as much fun throughout the day. Keating explains that since the event is annual there are participants who come back year after year and recognize the volunteers. The connections the participants share with the volunteers is valued because though they may not have seen each other within a year, they both act as if they saw each other recently.
Erik Flores is one volunteer and member of Phi Kappa Epsilon who reflects on his time participating in the Manhattan College Games.
Erik Flores, the current president of Phi Kappa Epsilon, first became involved with the games during his sophomore year when he was introduced to it through his major in Exercise Science in Pre-Physical Therapy. Since then he’s been involved with the fraternity and the event.
Flores recounts that one of the most rewarding experiences that comes from volunteering at the games is interacting with the participants and being able to make their day though a variety of activities. One instance of this that stood out to Flores was when he was supporting a participant who was consistently scoring baskets and would come to Flores throughout the event to continue playing.
“I obviously encouraged him to keep going because not only did he look like he was having fun but because it was obvious how much joy he got from it,” states Flores.
By the end of the event the same participant came up to Flores and thanked him through sign language stating how nice Flores was and how he truly made the participant’s day. It is through these, as Keating puts it “little things… moments,” that the volunteers learn the value of serving others.
Though this is Flores’ last year volunteering at the event as a MC student he continues to emphasize that this event is for all members of the MC community that provides both the participants and volunteers with a gratifying experience. He concludes by stating, “Not only will you be able to make another person’s day but somewhere along the event you will also catch yourself smiling from seeing how much fun one participant is having.”