Recreation Resources for People with Disabilities
Download this fact sheet as a PDF.
Recreation, leisure and play activity that includes all ages and abilities is a great equalizer. For people who are paralyzed, recreation can be a gateway to physical and health benefits. But the social interaction of recreation is just as important. Recreation promotes the inclusion of people. It enhances social connections, motivation, and self-esteem.
Recreation and leisure activities vary widely, from river rafting down the Grand Canyon to playing chess in the park. There are countless ways to adapt most activities for all participants. Most cities have adaptive recreation programs in place. There are specialized recreation centers, and there is a tremendous amount of information available online to get involved in fun activities.
For people with permanent disability permits free entrance into various national parks and federal lands. The Forest Service, the National Park Service, Fish and Wildlife Service, Bureau of Land Management, and Bureau of Reclamation honor the Access Pass at sites where entrance fees are charged.
The organization has offices in Colorado and Illinois. For more information on Adaptive Adventures, check out the website or call 847.251.8445 (Chicago) or 303.679.2770 (Colorado).
Adaptive Adventures provides progressive outdoor sports opportunities to improve quality of life for children, adults and veterans with physical disabilities and their families.
PO Box 131
Waltersburg, PA 15488
Adaptive Creations is dedicated to producing a line of adaptive equipment that will allow the severely disabled to become active in fun and challenging pursuits, no matter the level of injury. The company's initial product is Ken's Power Caster, a fully automated, push-button controlled fishing machine that allows for the hands-free casting and retrieval of a fishing line.
Adaptive Ski & Sport Programs
This site lists adaptive ski and sport programs in the US (by state), Canada and Europe.
Adaptive Sports Center
PO Box 1639
Crested Butte, CO 81224
Phone 970-349-2296, 866-349-2296 (Toll-free)
The Adaptive Sports Center offers outdoor adventure activities to people with disabilities and their families and friends.
American Association of Adapted Sports Programs (AASP)
P.O. Box 451047
Atlanta, Georgia 31145
AAASP is America's first interscholastic athletic governing body for students with physical or visual impairments. The organization's mission is to develop and support a standardized structure for school-based athletic competition to improve the well-being of students with physical disabilities.
(formerly U.S. Disabled Athletes Fund)
535 N. McDonough Street
Decatur, GA 30030
Provides sport, recreation and physical activity opportunities for people with physical disability.
2240 Meridian Boulevard, Suite C
Minden, NV 89423-8628
Beneficial Designs works towards universal access through research, design, and education. The company offers assistive technologies to enable users of varying abilities to take part in recreational and leisure activities.
Breckenridge Outdoor Education Center (BOEC)
PO Box 697
Breckenridge, CO 80424
Phone: 970-453-6422, 800-383-2632 (Toll-free)
The BOEC offers outdoor education experiences throughout the year, both single and multi-day courses, featuring many adventure activities in many locales in the Rocky Mountain and SE Utah region. The organization serves all people, with a specialized focus on those with disabilities and special needs. Its adaptive ski program offers full and half-day adaptive lessons daily throughout the winter season at Breckenridge and Keystone Ski Resorts.
Bridge II Sports
4122 Bennett Memorial Rd, Suite 109
Durham, NC 27712
Phone: 866-880-2742 (Toll-free)
Bridge II Sports creates opportunities for physically challenged children and adults to play team and individual sports by providing equipment, developing sports, teams and coaching.
Bridges to Ability Foundation
PO Box 801715
Santa Clarita, CA 91380-1715
Bridges to Ability provides quality vocational, educational, social, and recreational programs to teens 16 years and above and adults with disabilities, including Down Sydrome, cerebral palsy, autism, Asperger's syndrome, hearing and vision impairments, and physical disabilities.
Casa Colina Outdoor Adventures
Casa Colina Centers for Rehabilitation
255 East Bonita Avenue
PO Box 6001
Pomona, CA 91767
Phone: 909-596-7733 x4131, 866-724-4127 x4131 (Toll-free)
This program focuses on empowering people with disabilities by creating opportunities for challenging and exciting experiences in the out-of-doors.
PO Box 6639
Snowmass Village, CO 81615
Challenge Aspen provides year-round recreational, educational and cultural experiences for people with disabilities. Programs include skiing, snowboarding, fly fishing, rafting, horseback riding, hiking and climbing. Challenge Aspen Military Opportunities (C.A.M.O.) provides experiences for injured military.
Children & Adult Mobility Project (CAMP)
14 Echo Lane
Simsbury, CT 06070
CAMP runs Connecticut Adaptive Cycling, a hand-cycle, recumbent trike and adaptive cycling program for children and adults in Connecticut offer recreational and competitive rides.
The Dennis Walters Golf Show
Motivational speaker Dennis Walters provides lessons on golf and life based on his experience golfing with a disability. This site has links to resources for golfers with disabilities, and Walters is open to being contacted by people who would like information on playing as he does.
Disabled Sports USA
451 Hungerford Drive, Suite 100
Rockville, MD 20850
The mission of Disabled Sports USA is to provide national leadership and opportunities for individuals with disabilities to develop independence, confidence, and fitness through participation in community sports, recreation and educational programs. The organization has chapters in 37 states. Activities include winter skiing, water sports, summer and winter competitions, fitness and special sports events. Participants include those with visual impairments, amputations, spinal cord injury, dwarfism, multiple sclerosis, head injury, cerebral palsy, and other neuromuscular and orthopedic conditions.
900 Ogden Avenue, #274
Downers Grove, IL 60515
The Diveheart Foundation provides educational SCUBA diving and snorkeling experience programs to children, adults, and veterans with disabilities in hopes of providing both physical and psychological therapeutic value.
East Coast Greenway
A system of traffic-free, relatively flat trails, spanning nearly 3,000 miles from Canada to Key West, Florida, linking all the major cities of the eastern seaboard. It will be safe, free and accessible to people of all ages and physical abilities, including children, families, and the elderly.
Environmental Traveling Companions
Fort Mason Center
2 Marina Blvd. Bldg. C
San Francisco CA 94123
Environmental Traveling Companions opens the beauty and challenge of the great outdoors to people with disabilities and disadvantaged youth. Every year, more than 2,000 people join ETC to raft whitewater rivers, ski alpine meadows, kayak the waters of the Golden Gate and Tomales Bay, and build leadership skills.
IM ABLE Foundation
220 Park Road North Building 7
Wyomissing, PA 19610
The Foundation supports programs and individuals who want to get active through IM ABLE's programs. They purchase adaptive sports equipment and support programs that encourage physical activities.
Geocaching is a treasure hunting game in which participants use GPS devices to hide and locate containers. Handicaching improves the accessibility of geocaching for people with disabilities by rating caches so that disabled geocachers can quickly find the caches they are able to do. The site also provides tools and resources to help disabled geocachers find caches with ratings, find out what caches they will likely be able to do and a quick reference guide to the rating system.
Kennedy Krieger Institute: Physically Challenged Sports & Recreation Program
Kennedy Krieger High School Career and Technology Center
3825 Greenspring Avenue
Baltimore, MD 21211
The Physically Challenged Sports and Recreation Program is open to individuals aged 2 - 21 who experience physical challenges and exhibit cognitive skills at or near appropriate developmental levels. Activities include ice skating; motor development; fitness and swimming; wheelchair football, basketball and floor hockey; sitting volleyball; sled hockey; boccia; table tennis/polybat; tennis; track and field; baseball; power soccer; and golf.
Dorothy Hamill's adaptive figure skating program at Kennedy Krieger Institute in Maryland is open to children from ages 5 to 18.
4000 Ridgeway Drive
Birmingham, AL 35209
Lakeshore Foundation offers a wide range of fitness, recreation, athletic and education programs in four major areas: aquatics, fitness, competitive athletics and general recreation. Membership opportunities are available for individuals, couples, families, seniors and youth with physically disabling conditions including spinal cord injuries, cerebral palsy, multiple sclerosis, stroke, amputation, and visual impairment.
Life Rolls On Foundation
Life Rolls On is dedicated to improving the quality of life for young people affected by spinal cord injury and utilizes action sports as a platform to inspire infinite possibilities despite paralysis. LRO offers adaptive surfing and skateboarding.
The National Center on Accessibility (NCA)
Indiana University Research Park
501 North Morton Street, Suite 109
Bloomington, IN 47404
Phone: 812-856-4422, 812-856-4421 (TTY)
NCA promotes access and inclusion for people with disabilities in parks, recreation and tourism. Through the comprehensive services of research, technical assistance and education, NCA focuses on universal design and practical accessibility solutions creating inclusive recreation opportunities for people of all abilities.
National Park Service: National Parks – Accessible to Everyone
This website showcases trails, activities, and other features that are accessible at units of the National Park System nationwide. The information presented here is a sampling of the accessible facilities and programs available to visitors throughout the National Park System. Locations that are not highlighted on this site may also have accessible features.
The National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Access Pass
A free, lifetime pass - available to U.S. citizens or permanent residents of the United States that have been medically determined to have a permanent disability - that provides access to more than 2,000 recreation sites managed by five Federal agencies.
On the Edge Children's Foundation
PO Box 4763
Gettysburgh, PA 17325
Offers adaptive waterskiing to children.
Outdoors for All Foundation
6344 NE 74th Street, Suite 102
Seattle, WA 98115
The Outdoors for All Foundation provides year-round instruction in outdoor recreation for people with physical, developmental, and sensory disabilities. Programming includes snowboarding, snowshoeing, cross country and downhill skiing, cycling, hiking, river rafting, canoeing and kayaking, day camps, water skiing, rock-climbing, camping and custom events.
Accessibility at Federal Recreation Sites
Phone: 877-444-6777 (Toll-free)
This site has information on accessible recreation on federal lands.
Offers helicopter pilot lessons to veterans and civilians who are paraplegics. The founder is designed the HeliLeg which lets pilots operate foot pedals by hand. Please see their website for qualifying information and the application process.
Shaka Surf Camp in Costa Rica
Shaka Beach Retreat teaches children and adults with disabilities how to surf at a fully ADA-compliant and wheelchair accessible retreat. The camps are offered free of charge for selected non-profits to utilize.
2620 South Bayshore Drive
Coconut Grove, FL 33133
Shake-A-Leg Miami's mission is to use the marine environment to improve the health, education, independence and quality of life for all with an emphasis on individuals with physical, developmental and economic challenges.
774 East 3300 South, Suite 105
Salt Lake City, UT 84106
Splore offers affordable, customized, inclusive recreation and education programs for people of all abilities.
This site provides a calendar for each state and invites organizations to post their adaptive sports competitions or opportunities. There are also national calendars for 27 different activities.
(Sports and Therapeutic Recreation Instruction/Developmental Education)
476 North Greenbush Rd., Suite 9
Rensselear, NY 12144
Some of their winter programs are in Massachusetts.
The Treehouse Guys
The Treehouse Guys (formerly Forever Young Treehouses) design and build universally accessible treehouses for public parks and for private camps and backyards.
Turning Point teaches people with mobility impairments the skills necessary to fully enjoy the outdoors and sponsors a wide variety of activities. The organization has chapters in Texas, Oklahoma, California and North Carolina.
U Can Do
Phone: 866 U CAN DO 2 (866-822-6362) (Toll-free)
U Can Do's products provide challenging entertainment with social and family interaction to individuals with disabilities and special needs. The company's pinball machines can be played with one hand, fists, wrists, elbows, feet, or combinations thereof.
U. S. Adaptive Recreation Center
P.O. Box 2897
Big Bear Lake, CA 92315
USARC is committed to facilitating challenging and adventurous recreational programming for people with disabilities. Winter programs include skiing and snowboarding. Summer programs include wet and wild water skiing, jet skiing, kayaking, sailing and fishing.
WAVES (Wheelchairs and Veterans Enjoying Summer) Inc.
754 Shore Walk
Lindenhurst, NY 11757
WAVES offers free fishing and boating to children and adults with physical and mental challenges, including people with autism, multiple sclerosis, muscular dystrophy, spinal cord injuries, traumatic brain injuries, Down syndrome, and all disabled veterans. They operate in Long Island, NY from May to November and in Stuart, FL from November to May.
Wilderness Inquiry (WI)
Integrated adventures for persons with disabilities
808 14th Avenue Southeast
Minneapolis, MN 55414-1516
Phone: 612-676-9400, 800-728-0719 (Toll-free)
WI offers canoe, sea-kayak, backpack, horseback and dogsled adventures around the world to people whose backgrounds vary in terms of physical ability, age, mental capacity and more.
Books & Videos
Available for free loan from the Paralysis Resource Center's Lending Library
- Inclusion: Including People with Disabilities in Parks and Recreation Opportunities
Anderson, Lynn and Carla Brown Kress. State College, PA: Venture Publishing Inc., 2003.
- All Active: 35 Inclusive Physical Activities
Bielenberg, Kiwi. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics, 2008.
- Foundations of Therapeutic Recreation
Terry Robertson and Terry Long, editors. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics, 2008.
- Implementing Recreation and Leisure Opportunities for Infants and Toddlers with Disabilities
Champaign, IL: Sagamore Publishing, 2003.
- Including Youth with Disabilities in Outdoor Programs: Best Practices, Outcomes and Resources
Steve Brannan et al, editors. Champaign, IL: Sagamore Publishing, 2003
- Inclusive & Special Recreation Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities
Ralph W. Smith, et al., editors. Urbana, Ill.: Sagamore Publishing, 2011. 5th ed.
- Introduction to Recreation Services for People with Disabilities: A Person-Centered Approach
Charles C. Bullock, et al. editors. Urbana, Ill.: Sagamore Publishing, 2010. 3rd ed.
- Wheelchair Bowling
Lane, Jim and Dick Schaaf. Huntington Beach, Calif.: Wheelchair Bowlers of Southern California, 1980.
- Principles and Methods of Adapted Physical Education and Recreation
Edited by David Auxter, Jean Pyfer, Carol Huettig. Boston: McGraw-Hill, 2005.
- Adapted Physical Activity, Recreation and Sport
Sherrill, Claudine. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2004. 6th edition.
- Canoeing and Kayaking for People with Disabilities
Zeller, Janet A. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics for the American Canoe Association, 2009.
- Beyond Limits
Sleeper Productions, 2009. DVD 39 minutes.
Bonner Paddock doesn't let his cerebral palsy stand in the way of climbing Mount Kilimanjaro in Africa. He does it to raise awareness about CP and to raise funds to open a center for children with disabilities in Orange County, California.
- How Can We All Play? Severe disAbility in PE
Ames: IA: Championship Productions, 2002. DVD 35 minutes.
How to get all students involved in physical education classes.
- Right to Risk: 15 Day Journey Through Arizona's Grand Canyon
Coupeville, WA: KJR Media, 2007. DVD. (57 minutes)
Follows 8 people with disabilities such as quadriplegia, blindness, multiple sclerosis, and amputation as they raft down the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon.
- Through the Roof
Vista, Calif.: C.H.E.K. Institute, 2010.
In 2010, Erica Davis became the first female paraplegic to summit Mt. Kilimanjaro with Tara Butcher, an amputee.
- Wheelchair Dance Demo: Two-Step and Waltz
Aurora, CO: Adaptive Dancing, VHS.
Download this fact sheet as a PDF.
The information contained on this webpage is presented for the purpose of educating and informing you about paralysis and its effects. Nothing contained in this message should be construed nor is intended to be used for medical diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider. Should you have any health care related questions, please call or see your physician or other qualified health care provider promptly. Always consult with your physician or other qualified health care provider before embarking on a new treatment, diet or fitness program. You should never disregard medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read in this message.