For many of us, sports meant everything growing up. Not because we were competitive or winning mattered, but because we loved every minute of running around with friends and having fun. Some kids never had the opportunity to experience this or were afraid to due to a disability. Today, we can happily say this has changed and many programs have become accessible to all. In an article from the National Federation of State High School Associations, they explain how in 2013 the Office for Civil Rights issued a Dear Colleague Letter spelling out the legal duty all federally funded schools had to provide accessible recreational sports programs to children with all types of disabilities. Making a huge stride to assure no child is left out again.
What kind of Programs are available and how to learn more?
Nationwide, communities are supporting inclusive sport programs both recreational and national. In addition to school or recreational leagues, organizations such as the National Center on Health, Physical Activity and Disability (NCHPAD) and the American Association of Adapted Sports Programs are helping to form new independent leagues that offer sports ranging from wheelchair basketball and football to power lifting and table tennis. Educated Sports Parent has put together a great list of different sports programs and organizations dedicated to the inclusion of all competitors.
Special Needs Sports Programs
To assess the needs of all children, leagues have been introduced not only for those with physical disabilities but for children who have special needs too. The most well-known example would be the Special Olympics, where countless athletes come together to take part in a multitude of competitions. In addition to being active and having fun, participating in sporting events help to teach these young men and women important lessons about self-pride and bravery as well. Put best by the Special Olympics athlete oath “Let me win. But if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt.”
These programs are not limited to only track and field but also include; baseball, basketball, cheerleading/dancing, flag football and soccer. For those interested in less traditional sporting events, we encourage you to look into these organizations for other sport opportunities they offer!
How to get involved?
Perhaps you have loved ones who suffer from a disability or you admire the heart of these athletes and want to know what you can do to help them? Well getting involved is simple and can be more rewarding then you think! In an interview with a special Olympics volunteer, he exclaimed that besides the sheer effort each athlete put in, what he was impressed by most was the joy expressed on each of their faces whether they won or lost because this is something often lost amongst the competitive nature of today’s sports.
The first step you can take to volunteer is to reach out to local organizations such as schools, community centers or YMCA’s and see what kinds of programs they offer and what help they may need. Other options on a national scale can be found through volunteer programs. There are plenty of organizations such as Disabled Sports USA, the Special Olympics and Blaze Sports America, that are constantly looking for volunteers, donations and any other help one could offer.« PreviousNext »