LiveBIG Staff, December 25, 2015

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During football and basketball games, BTN LiveBIG will spotlight notable examples of research, innovation and community service from around the conference. In-Game stories will provide more background on these features, and the opportunity to view the videos again.

When we think of memorable sports moments, our minds generally turn to jaw-dropping performances by elite athletes or the historic victories of our favorite teams. But truly meaningful moments in the world of sports don?t always involve big names and big wins.

One of the best examples of that is the work of the Young Athletes Program. Developed by Rutgers University physical therapy professor Ellen Zambo Anderson, the organization is an inclusive sports-play program that introduces fun activities to children with different abilities between ages 2-7. That age range is important: Previously, kids with special needs were only able to get training and athletic competition if they were eight or older.

With encouragement from Special Olympics New Jersey, Anderson started Young Athletes more than a decade ago. Though its initial scope was essentially the state of New Jersey, the program expanded rapidly. To date, it?s impacted more than 110,000 participants in over 125 countries.

Rutgers has played a big role in Young Athletes? continued success. In addition to the institutional support Anderson?s received, several students have given countless hours of their time to the program through service-learning opportunities, benefiting both themselves and the kids they serve.

[btn-post-package]?I believe that it helps them take what they?ve learned in the lab and in the classroom into real-life situations,? Anderson said. ?It sets up a situation where they see faculty as professionals, and they see that a professional gives of him- or herself to outside groups and organizations.

?What I like about Rutgers and the faculty is our camaraderie and our commitment to helping students learn and to achieve in their career, which will be physical therapy,? she added. ?It?s very rewarding to me to see our students participate in something that I?ve worked on. I think that it gives them an example about how they can move forward and make changes in the world.?

Watch the one-minute video above to see Young Athletes in action.

By Brian Summerfield