The Bankshot Court at Freedom Park is the first all-inclusive court in Palm Beach County.
GREENACRES — One will not find a basketball court like the one at Freedom Park anywhere else in Palm Beach County.
It’s colorful, a rainbow of backboards standing above a bright blue court. It features 24 hoops of different heights, making the chances of scoring a basket progressively more difficult. There’s even a special point system for the circuit, based on the distance from which players shoot at the basket.
The Bankshot Basketball Court is the first all-inclusive one in the county, designed to allow people with disabilities and special needs to compete more evenly with other players.
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Its sponsor was City Council member Paula Bousquet. And it’s already a hit with people such as Brad, Robert and Kyle, clients of the Palm Beach County Habilitation Center who competed there Wednesday afternoon.
“I love it. I think it is wonderful,” said Ashley Eccles, the centers community resource coordinator. “We already planned on coming back once COVID is over to do community outings. We want to come back with our friends in wheelchairs and walkers because it is very accessible.”
Court puts emphasis on ingenuity, not quickness or strength
Bousquet proposed the Bankshot court in 2018 after learning about it in an email from a company that builds them.
City officials embraced the idea and set a $100,000 budget for the project. They chose an empty space for the court near the playground and soccer field at Freedom Park, off Pinehurst Drive south of Forest Hill Boulevard.
Construction met with some delays last year amid the coronavirus pandemic. Construction finally began several weeks ago, and the city had a ribbon-cutting in May.
“We are committed to serving the community, and I thought it was the perfect opportunity to provide to an underserved population,” Bousquet said.
Traditional basketball courts create disadvantages for those with special needs. Instead of relying on quickness or strength, the Bankshot Court demands players rely more on ingenuity to score.
Players must adjust their shots to make it bank and go through the net as the physical features and height of each Bankshot change. One, for example, has an enclosed backboard. Another has forward indentations, changing how the ball will bounce.
To score points, players must bank their shots off the backboard and through the net. In front of each hoop, numbers are placed differing in shape and color showing how many points you can score.
Greenacres seeks other projects to serve people with special needs
The court is open to the community on weekdays from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., closed for an hour, but reopens until 9:30 p.m. Additionally, it is available from 7:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. on weekends and holidays.
Bousquet said the court’s success has her and other city officials looking for other types of projects Greenacres can launch to serve people with special needs.
“In Greenacres, we believe in creating experiences for abilities; the Bankshot Basketball court is just one amenity that offers this,” said Austin Lee, Greenacres’ public information officer.