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Giving disadvantaged youth the right Connections

By Rod Lee

With offices in Acton, Grafton, Harvard, Newton Centre (at the Jewish Community Center), now Oxford (on Millbury Boulevard, as of January), Pepperell and Wellesley, the “Connections PT Team” could have said “we’re doing our part” just by its extensive work helping patients rehabilitate their bodies from ailments and injuries.

Instead, in a desire to also give back, Connections Physical Therapy (formerly Wellesley Therapeutic Services, which opened in 1984) recently decided to lend its support to the Boston-based nonprofit “Playing It Forward” as a way to put new and used sports equipment in the hands of children from disadvantaged areas—regardless of age.

Talking about the campaign in Connections PT’s storefront location in the Oxfords Casual Dining plaza last week, James M. “Jim” Hosker, DPT, OCS, said that while some of the company’s branches chose other initiatives to have their presence felt in the community—as for instance food pantries—Grafton and Oxford thought sports equipment made sense.

“It helps the kids and that’s what the world is all about,” Mr. Hosker, whose son plays hockey, said. “We’re just getting started because we have only been open for a few months but this will be an ongoing project. Grafton has already gotten a basketball, soccer balls and a baseball glove that’s in good condition.”

Mr. Hosker said there is no end date in mind and that the equipment that is donated—whether it be catcher’s and umpire’s gear, a pitching cage and/or batting cage and netting, footballs, soccer cleats, etc.—will support Playing It Forward’s mission which is to empower young people through sport.

David Cohen, founder of Playing It Forward, was first attracted to the cause when he saw a documentary featuring Louis Gossett Jr. that depicted children in Africa playing soccer with rag balls. Deeply moved, Mr. Cohen immediately made a call to his former coach and mentor at the Brooks School in North Andover, with a request. So began Playing It Forward, which since 2009 has helped more than 30,000 kids in 20 countries.

Mr. Cohen, who lives in Framingham, is also executive director of the nonprofit “Doc Wayne” which provides at-risk youth with a therapeutic experience through sport.

The sports-equipment drive taking place in Oxford meshes comfortably with Connections PT’s own objective which is to pair its clients with experienced therapists for one-to-one care. Connections’ methods and treatments cover a large spectrum from Aquatic Therapy to Yoga/Pilates-Based Exercise.

By teaming with PIF, Connections PT is joining an effort that has resulted in baseball equipment for kids in San Nicholas, Aruba, squash rackets for kids in Cambridge, Massachusetts and India and soccer cleats for the “Football For Good” youth academy in Uganda.

There is no telling how many kids Oxford’s Connections PT office will help. Maybe even some closer to home.

Contact Rod Lee at [email protected] or 774-232-2999.