Clinic set to help visually impaired students learn athletics

2014-04-10T15:30:00Z 2014-04-11T02:40:51Z Clinic set to help visually impaired students learn athleticsBy CHRIS CIOFFI The Billings Gazette

The Northwest Association for Blind Athletes will be hosting a clinic in Billings on Saturday to introduce sight-impaired students to participation in sports.

The Paralympic Experience will be Saturday from 9:30 a.m. to 2:45 p.m. at Billings West High School.

Students from kindergarten through 12th grade are invited. Parents of visually impaired students are also invited to attend.

The goal is to teach students how to participate in sports that are specifically designed for people with a visual impairment.

“When they’re still in school, we can build that desire, and hopefully we can continue it on into adulthood,” said Nick Wilks, co-founder of the Northwest Association for Blind Athletes, which is hosting the event.

The event will feature demonstrations of sports such as judo, tandem cycling and a game called goalball.

Goalball is a sport invented after WWII and features two teams of three lined up on opposite sides of a basketball court. The teams guard a long goal set up behind them. Each group bowls a heavy ball at speeds up to 50 mph, trying to score in the opponent’s goal. Athletes are blindfolded, ensuring they only use their other senses.

The sports chosen in the demonstration are all events in the Paralympic games.

“You can do them from a little community event in Billings, all the way to the big international stuff,” Wilks said.

NWABA hopes that Saturday’s expo will be the largest turnout ever in Billings.

In 2013, Skyview High School hosted events in April and October, he said.

To register for the event, log onto or call 1-360-448-7254

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