Meet Garoa From Spain, Primary School Teacher and Volunteer Basketball Coach

April 27, 2017
Garoa Arbelaitz (purple sweater above) of Spain joined her host family, the Nelsons, in 2015 through the U.S. Department of State’s J1 au pair program. The Nelsons, an apex PROaupair host family, reside in Gig Harbor, Washington and have two boys, Ian and Trevor, whom Garoa cares for. Recently, Garoa had the opportunity to try something new- helping coach Ian and Trevor’s special needs basketball team!

Garoa’s host child Ian, 14, has Cerebral Palsy and a seizure disorder but that doesn’t stop him from conquering the basketball court. Alongside him on the team is his brother Trevor, 10, who does not have special needs- he just loves his brother and basketball!

Recently, Ian and Trevor were at basketball practice when their au pair Garoa noticed that the coach didn’t have enough help. Their coach was alone in assisting a group of special needs players so Garoa immediately volunteered her time and learned the new rules of this adapted type of basketball.
Garoa shares,

"People in our group were all ages and had motor problems, difficulties moving, so the practice and the game itself was adapted to their limitations and skills. We focused on completing a single bounce pass, teamwork by calling each other’s names and reminding others the task if they forgot, shots, bounces. etc.

The game was adapted too. It didn’t involve running or walking. We put them in groups of 5. Each had a position around the net, so they had to pass the ball with one single bounce to their mates by calling their names. And the last person had to shoot. Then they had to rotate so they all had the chance to shoot."

Ian [Host child Ian, 14, taking a shot.]

With Garoa’s support, the team even took second place in a basketball tournament!

"It's been a very enriching experience. We once went to a basketball meet and got the second place. We were all so happy!"

Team [The team celebrates.]

Throughout these past 2 years with her host family, Garoa has made a wealth of special memories and seeing Ian and Trevor work together in basketball is one that is sure to stand out.