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Grand Haven HS bowlers team up with students with special needs

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GRAND HAVEN, Mich. -- High school athletes donated some extra time Thursday to teach bowling skills to students with special needs from the Ottawa Area Intermediate School District.

Members from the Grand Haven High School bowling team were paired up with students from the Ottawa Area Center at Starlite Lanes, 1305 South Beacon Blvd., for what OAISD calls "community based instruction" to learn bowling and other lifelong skills.

“It’s a sport that allows a lot of different backgrounds to interact and grow relationships," said Pat Mitchell, coach for Grand Haven High School's bowling team.

“It’s a great opportunity, all of our student athletes love to participate with the community."

Mitchell said the choice to teach bowling to the students was one that made sense.

“Everybody has a heart and everybody has a desire to find that one thing they love and we hope that bowling is it," he said.

More than two dozen community based instruction students bowled Thursday afternoon alongside six bowling team members.

The experience gives the students an opportunity to interact with people their own age in an environment where they might not normally be able to spend time, said Pete Johnson, director for the Ottawa Area ISD's Young Adult Transition Services.

“Depending on the student level we’re working with, coming to a place like this can be a big deal,” Johnson said. “We want our students to find value in what they’re doing and enjoy and potentially learn something new and then develop friendships and partnerships right here.”

Thursday's meeting marked the first such instance between the two groups. But organizers with both Grand Haven and OAISD say they hope to make it a regular gathering.

“I think it’s absolutely awesome," said Jimmy Mitchell, a member of the GHHS bowling team.

"It’s great we can help these people and bring smiles to their faces, it helps bring smiles to our faces."

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