Tru Blu Sports program helps special-needs children flourish – Miami Herald

Tru Blu Sports is a year-round program based in South Miami that helps children with disabilities become successful later on in life.

“Our program gives each participant the opportunity to experience different sports that allow them to feel comfortable, successful, and motivated,” said program founder Manisha Patel.

The program was conceptualized by Patel’s son Savant, now 16, and the rest of the family. The idea came after the Patels couldn’t find a special-needs sports program for younger son Rishi, now 14.

“November 2015 was when I approached my parents with the idea and in January 2016 the program was founded,” Savant said. “We couldn’t find a special needs sports league for my brother who has autism and realized that there was a need for it.”

Since the program’s beginning, it has slowly gained traction helping special-needs children through a variety of different sports activities. Participants are from ages 8 to 18, and a parent or guardian must be present at all activities.

Jennifer Gomez, 16, has autism spectrum disorder and has been a member of Tru Blu Sports for several months, according to her father Mario Gomez.

Already, Gomez says, Jennifer has made significant progress.

“In just a few months she has been in the group, she improved her mood and is always happy to go every Saturday and play and have fun with the others kids,” he said. “The coaches and other volunteers are great, embraced her in the sports activities and she absolutely loves it.”

Gomez said it was difficult for his family “to find a group like this in the community that offer this kind of services for these kinds of kids.”

Coaches and volunteers work with the children to ensure they are flourishing.

“Some of the children had difficulty socializing, as well as dribbling, kicking or shooting the ball,” Patel said. “Over time with the help of our coaches and volunteers, they have made significant progress. I am extremely proud of the progress that the kids had made in a short amount of time.”

The program has different sets of activities throughout the year, with soccer being held September to December and basketball from January to May.

“We meet on Tuesday and Saturday for an hour,” Manisha Patel said. “We start with a warm up and then rotation drills. Then for the last 15-20 minutes of the session we play a game that we created specifically for special needs kids.”

The program, which also conducts field trips to the Actors’ Playhouse in Coral Gables, has been able to attract a significant number of children.

“We started with seven kids in our program and now we have 22 kids and growing,” Patel said.

For more information

To learn more about Tru Blu Sports, contact Manisha Patel at 305-965-5629 or trublusport@gmail.com.

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