Launch Party Celebrates ES Gaming Program | Easterseals Arc of Northeast Indiana
Gamers pack the new gaming trailer Easterseals Northern Indiana unveiled at the ES Gaming launch party.
Spectators cluster around the players in the Mario Kart tournament at Easterseals RISE in Angola.
RISE of the Phoenix team members Nick “Halo,” Frankie “Mountain Dew,” and Bob “Heart Break Kid” play shoulder-to-shoulder in the Mario Kart tournament at Easterseals RISE.
Jason Veach, a Direct Support Professional at Cardinal Services, won the Mario Kart tournament. The trophy he holds was made with a 3D printer at Trine University.
Nick focuses intently on Fortnite play in the gaming lab at Easterseals RISE in Angola.
A row of players set up Fortnite on computers in the gaming lab at Easterseals RISE.
The gaming lab at Easterseals RISE is popular with participants.
Frankie concentrates closely on playing Fortnite in the gaming lab at Easterseals RISE.
Easterseals Northern Indiana CEO Donna Elbrecht, right, and Crystal Church-Stavitzke, executive director of donor relations and special initiatives, left, welcome Angola Mayor David Martin to the ES Gaming launch party.
Ruth holds the best door prize of the ES Gaming launch party – an Xbox!

ES Gaming took off publicly with a launch party at Easterseals RISE in Angola on Friday, May 17.

It was much more than a showcase for gamers who’ve organized the RISE of the Phoenix gaming team. More than 100 party attendees got a look at Easterseals Northern Indiana’s investment in gaming and the contagious enthusiasm of participants. Community members, staff,  and consumers from across Easterseals Northern Indiana got a chance to see the organization’s new gaming trailer and the Easterseals RISE game lab.

The gaming trailer is equipped with multiple PlayStations, Xboxes, and Nintendo Switches that allow up to 24 players to play at the same time, providing an inclusive space for interaction. The trailer will be available to rent for corporate events, birthday parties, and other events.

The game lab provides a space for recreational play during Easterseals day programs. The Easterseals RISE site is the organization’s first game lab, but similar labs will be set up at Easterseals Arc of Northeast Indiana, Easterseals Passages and Cardinal Services.

Aubrie, a devoted gamer and member of the RISE of the Phoenix team, spoke to the crowd at the launch party. She said her involvement in the gaming group has shown her how it can build not just game skills, but also all the skills that contribute to being part of a team.

She described the value of discovering she was “able to do something you didn’t think you could do. There are a number of ways to adapt yourself to play games.”

It’s definitely not a pastime only for the young. Bob is another RISE of the Phoenix team member, and at 52 years old he has played video games for decades. He said the team play he’s experienced through Easterseals is the most fun he’s had gaming.

“You play along with your friends. You meet new people,” he said.

Esports Coach Paige Hart said she’s impressed with how well the Easterseals RISE gamers work with one another and how open they are to learning from members of the gaming team at Trine University.

She said she sees evidence of secondary benefits, apart from becoming better video game players.

“A lot of times they gain a lot of social friendships through this,” she said. “I’ve seen a lot of blossoming friendships that come from being in the setting of the game lab.”

Hart sees the players developing better cooperation, better hand-eye coordination, more problem-solving abilities and even mentoring when players coach one another during games.

Hart is quick to hand off credit for a key win: the team name, the RISE of the Phoenix, which the players themselves chose.

“I thought it was a very good choice,” she said. “They really wanted something with flames, and they wanted to tie in RISE. I thought that was really creative.”