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The Impact of Adaptive Sports and Recreation

A young black boy in a wheelchair wearing a white jersey holds a basketball off to his side as a young white boy in a wheelchair wearing a red jersey positions himself in front of the other boy.

Many studies support the idea that participation in adaptive sports and recreation is beneficial to individuals living with a disability. More specifically, one found that regular participation can have a positive association with improvements in quality of life, life satisfaction, community reintegration, mood, and employment in those with disabilities.* The development of independence, social skills, self-esteem, self-awareness, and general physical and emotional health are also fostered by involvement in adaptive sports and recreation. Other benefits include allowing families to experience fun and adventure together while creating lifelong memories. Biking, ziplining, skiing, scuba diving, or simply enjoying a day at the park are all activities that can contribute to the overall well-being of individuals living with disability.

My son Greg, the founder of 2LIV4, was a sports enthusiast before an accident that resulted in a brain injury. After acquiring his disability, he had to relearn basic physical activities, such as crawling, creeping, and walking. While participating in sports such as soccer and basketball became activities of the past for Greg, his new challenge became learning to adapt to living with his disability. Greg and our family now had new measures for his success as we celebrated his physical therapy achievements and cheered him on for reaching recovery milestones such as sitting up and walking for the first time post-accident.

A man wearing a bucket hat stands on an SUP holding a paddle and looking to his right where a woman sits on an adaptive SUP holding a paddle while looking down at the turquoise blue water.

Along Greg’s rehabilitation journey, we were fortunate to meet Chris Weigand with Adaptive Adventures, who encouraged Greg to continue his sports pursuits. While it was a reckoning for Greg to come to terms with the fact that he was no longer able to enjoy some of the sports he participated in before the accident, Chris opened his eyes to other exciting activities such as rock climbing, kayaking, deep sea diving, parasailing, skydiving, and skiing.

We also met Carol Huserik from the Recreation Department at Craig Hospital and Lynn and Scott Taylor, the owners of A-1 Scuba, who teach people with disabilities to dive. Carol, Lynn, and Scott played a big role in helping Greg discover his love of diving. They understand how important activities are to people with disabilities and their families and friends. As an overprotective mother, they also helped me let my guard down and loosen up the reins so that Greg could rediscover his abilities and challenge himself. Greg and our family have been on numerous dive trips with A-1 Scuba and have made lasting relationships with other divers and their families.

A woman sets a volleyball from a seated position while her seated opponents look on from the other side of the sitting volleyball court ready to defend.

If you or a loved one would like to get involved in adaptive sports or recreational activities, we want to ensure you have the resources to make that happen. Below is a list of some of the organizations our family is familiar with in the Denver area, as well as a few others that provide services throughout the United States.

Adaptive Sports and Recreation Resources

Colorado Organizations

A white man with left arm below-the-elbow limb loss on an indoor rock climbing wall leans back as he grasps a hold with his right hand and supports himself with his legs.

Nationwide Organizations

  • Paradox Sports helps grow climbing opportunities nationally for people with disabilities through the Adaptive Climbing Initiative and annual world-class rock and ice climbing trips.

  • Dive Pirates provides aquatic therapy and rehabilitation for the benefit of military veterans, people living with disabilities, and other special needs groups for the purposes of social interaction, life enrichment, and rehabilitation.

  • Move United provides opportunities for individuals with disabilities to develop independence, confidence, and fitness through participation in community sports, including competition, recreation, and educational programs.

  • USA Archery Whether your goal is to get out and socialize, be active or make a U.S. Paralympic or World Championship Team, archery is a sport that lends itself to any need.

  • National Wheelchair Basketball Association provides individuals with physical disabilities the opportunity to play, learn and compete in wheelchair basketball.

  • USTA Wheelchair Tennis The USTA is dedicated to providing top-flight programming and developmental opportunities to wheelchair athletes of all ages and backgrounds. The goal, above all else, is for the athletes to learn the sport of tennis and have fun.

  • USA Paralympic Shooting implements and manages development programs and sanctions events at the local, state, regional, and national levels.

  • US Adaptive Rowing More than 60 USRowing member organizations offer adaptive rowing throughout the United States.

  • USA Parafencing aims to grow and promote the sport of fencing in the United States, honor its rich traditions, and achieve sustained competitive international excellence.

This list is only a fraction of the resources out there. If you don’t find what you’re looking for here, we encourage you to check with your local community centers, hospitals, and department of parks and recreation. You can also do a web or Facebook search of your activity of choice + your city. No experience necessary!

Editor’s note: Please use this list only as a starting point to research and locate the activity that best suits the needs of you or your loved one. 2LIV4 has not vetted these organizations or their facilities and has no affiliation with them. We encourage you to do your due diligence before registering for any activity, whether on this list or not.

*Robert Diaz, Emily K Miller, Emily Kraus, Michael Fredericson (2019). Impact of Adaptive Sports Participation on Quality of Life


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