AYF’s Pyunik Basketball Program Serves Special Needs Youth

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ENCINO, Calif.—The Armenian Youth Federation San Fernando Valley “Sardarabad” Chapter on Sunday held the first practice of the fourth season of its Pyunik Basketball Program, an initiative that serves young Armenians with special needs. About a third of the practice’s participants were new to the program, and it ran successfully as both old and new volunteers came to assist this community effort.

The “Sardarabad” Chapter’s basketball program was launched in 2014 after careful planning and coordination with the Armenian Autism Outreach Project (AAOP), which has been instrumental in informing families about the program and recruiting members. The chapter created the program with the aim of creating a safe space where children with special needs could experience the thrill of the game while building motor skills and bonding with members of the Armenian community.

Koko Abounayan, a chapter executive member, said the volunteers are very excited to start the fourth season of this program. “Our goal was to build relations and connections with parts of our community that we had not worked with before, and we did just that. The sense of community grows stronger at each practice as we gain more and more participants. We are looking forward to having another productive year!”

The chapter is aiming to expand the program to provide all Armenian children with special needs the opportunity to participate. One does not need to be an AYF member to volunteer, and the program is open to the public. All members of the community are highly encouraged to participate, and new volunteers are always welcome.

If you would like to participate in the program or would like more information, please email sardarabad@ayfwest.org.

Founded in 1933 with organizational structures in over 17 regions around the world and a legacy of over eighty years of community involvement, the Armenian Youth Federation is the largest and most influential Armenian-American youth organization in the world, working to advance the social, political, educational, and cultural awareness of Armenian youth.

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