Success Story: Adaptive Sports Programs Encourage Physical Activity for All
Getting our daily recommended physical activity (60 minutes/day for youth, 30 minutes/day for adults) is important – it’s important whether we live in the city, in the suburbs, or in a rural setting. It’s important whether we run fast or slow, whether we’re big, tall, short or small. And it’s important if we are able bodied or if we have a disability.As part of the listening tour around the country that seeks public input for the America’s Great Outdoors initiative, several federal agencies visited North Avenue Beach, one of Chicago’s great outdoor recreation environments, to learn how people with special needs or disabilities are able to enjoy outdoor physical activity thanks to important equipment adaptations and programs, including Kayak Chicago, Project Mobility and Special Olympics. Access to Chicago’s beautiful waterways is a great equalizer for persons with disabilities, and Kayak Chicago helps bring that experience to people with programs that help them launch in Lake Michigan or other water locations. Project Mobility: Cycles for Life offers kids and adults a chance to experience Chicago’s waterfront views through adapted cycles, as seen in the photo below of Shellie Pfohl, Executive Director of the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports & Nutrition, enjoying a lesson on the hand cycle from her friend Jacob Honeyman. Special Olympics brought athletes to play beach volleyball. And for people who want to enjoy the sandy beach, adapted wheelchairs with “wheels” that can traverse the sand accommodate an integrated experience to make sure people with disabilities can enjoy being active outdoors alongside able-bodied friends. Adaptive sports programs such as Project Mobility, Kayak Chicago, and Special Olympics are important in elevating opportunities for all persons to enjoy physical activity. Kids as young as five years old whiz around the beach paths on their adapted cycles, offering an independence from a wheelchair and a chance to truly “be active.” Accelerating these types of opportunities will help advance the health and fitness for more Americans, overcoming an important barrier to access that many people face in their daily lives.