Adaptive Sports Professional Network Goes Public by Heather Krill

Posted by Reeve Staff in Daily Dose on August 12, 2016 # Adaptive Sports

The power of sport. My husband Geoff will tell you that as soon as he rode down a steep hill in a sit down, gravity fed, four wheeled mountain bike— or turned a mono ski on snow for the first time following his snowmobile accident, he knew his life with paralysis could be awesome again. These adaptive sports programs have been developing for decades or even only months help people to find fun and community through recreation and/or competition. They also bring a sense of normalcy for families who care for loved ones to find magical moments as regular people whose kids are learning to ski or bike or play soccer.

Even just this week while vacationing in Michigan, I was pushing our kids on a swing at a playground when a nearby mom was discussing with her brother the best spot for a new accessible swing. These are my people I thought! So I introduced myself, explained that my husband ran an adaptive sports program called Eastern Adaptive Sports back in New Hampshire, and asked if her son water skied. Her son was turning 8, loved the water, had Cerebral Palsy and autism.

Thinking about all the lakes in that area, there are probably adaptive water skiing programs for kids and adults of varying abilities. And if there isn’t, there should be, and she became excited imagining what could be possible for her little boy. Similar to what I was discussing with that fellow mom, the Adaptive Sports Professional Network is going public to provide a structure that connects professionals involved with disabled athletes to provide even more comprehensive resources for recreation opportunities.

Years ago, Rob Mueller reached out to experts in the field of adaptive sports and, together, a team of 12 have created this network in a collective effort of varying experience. Jill Gravink, executive director of world-renowned Northeast Passage, out of University of New Hampshire in Durham, says, "This is a great step for the profession of adaptive sports. It will offer us a platform to come together, discuss best practices, and support each other as our field continues to grow in expertise and prominence.”

Thus, the Adaptive Sports Professional Network is just one tool providing resources and professional connections for those in the fields of rehabilitation and recreation.This network should be shared to support individuals and programs at local, regional, national and international levels; these nurturing days and months of getting the concept off the ground is very important. They support adaptive sports professionals by providing a community discussion, job board, training library and training calendar. New programs and individuals seeking adaptive resources need this kind of 'time capsule' for the experience, knowledge, and know-how that has been developing for years.

Meeting that mom on that playground may have seemed random, but we were meant to cross paths. We debated together about whether the swing should go closer to the accessible ramp into the lake or be next to the other swings. Seemed like a no brainer: put the accessible swing next to the swings and add a branch of additional ramping to connect the two. And like those swings, there are so many opportunities for kids and adults of all ages and ability levels to recreate both with and without their families.

A community who talks more about making life better for ALL people, is also a community which will then actually follow through and take action. Ultimately, this makes our world a better, more active, happier place to live. Thank you to this team of professionals for developing the adaptive sports network. Moms, dads, and partners across the world need to make sure local doctors, rehabilitation specialists, occupational, speech, and physical therapists, therapeutic recreation coordinators and local adaptive sports directors (along with many others) learn about this professional network to better support their loved ones with physical and/or intellectual disabilities. And to the mother I met in Michigan, I hope your son loves that new swing. I hear swinging is the new gateway sport to lifelong recreation with family and friends.