Adaptive Sports Played By Persons With Physical Or Intellectual Disabilities

While playing sports can be valuable to everyone, it is even more so in the lives of persons with disabilities. This is due to sports having a rehabilitative influence on the body and the mind. An individual learns independence during sports activities, so it is good for all people to play sports. Disabled individuals can participate in most all recreational, competition, and high performance sports.

The numbers of disabled persons actively involved in physical sports and recreational exercise is growing everyday. In fact, many disabled persons have more personal drive, training, experience, and expertise at playing, than many so-called professionals in modern sports. This being simply because they have been sport therapy or some physical workout time necessary for keeping up with their disability. So being active is often more natural for the disabled person, it is an irony of life for most.

Adaptive Sports Activities

Active adaptive sports can be played by anyone with a disability. The forms of modern sports do include the disabled in many ways, they have simply been adapted to the physical and intellectual realities of those playing them. The actual sport is not limited in such a way, that it takes away form the mental and physical challenges in competition.

Adaptive sports are also called disability sports or parasports, but all inclusive is the term adaptive and the main reason it is used. The term adaptive refers to adaption of alternative athletic principle by many sports activities for those less than able bodied. This has been a goal for all rehabilitation facilities around the world, but is really more about the benefits adaptive sports have on their participants.

Multiple research studies find that adaptive sports can provide many different mental and physical health benefits. These benefits include feeling less stress, achieving greater independence, going further with education, finding new employment, and having less drug dependency for disabled persons. Active athletics also helps disabled people to avoid secondary medical problems, such as hypertension and diabetes.

Essentially, the same benefits anyone can attain via sports activities. Sports are all good for those without any disabilities, so why wouldn’t the same be true for those who are disabled. Makes sense, if you really think about it.

Three Categories of Adaptive Sports Activities

Adaptive sports fall into three organizational categories. These broader categories that include sports for the deaf, persons with physical disabilities, and persons that are intellectually disabled. Each grouping having a unique history, approach to sports, competitions program, and organizational structure. These three have been decided upon, based on the outlooks of the entire disabled communities over time. These three categories are utilized to help remove stigmas and prejudices often used to be critical of people having disabilities.

Since the later 1980s, there have been many groups and organizations starting to include disabled athletic competitors in major sporting events. Sporting competitions for disabled athletes are now accepted at the Olympics and the Commonwealth Games. It was a great first step, but these competitions did not yet allow for adaptive sports that were being played by persons with disabilities outside the normal sports arenas. The inclusion of these formal and adaptive sports for disabled persons are not like many other activities, where you can join no matter if you are or are not mentally or physically challenged.

The hope is that sports like swimming and others will continue to accept adaptive versions, but also include disabled athletes. Meanwhile, one day perhaps, there will be room for major competitions in wheelchair basketball, wheelchair dancing, and specialized weightlifting, all being challenges set for only disabled persons to compete in. Until that day comes there are still major disability sporting events that are recognized around the world.

Adaptive Sports Played By Persons With Physical Or Intellectual Disabilities

A number of organized adaptive sports competitions are held for those with physical and intellectual disabilities. Each have their unique place in the world of adaptive sports, but are held in equal esteem by the organizations and groups that support them. Many different sports are played from the traditional sports arena and some even overlap between all of the adaptive games like Alpine Skiing, swimming, and tennis.

Deaflympics is held in the summer and winter. Although not yet as big on the media radar, it is considered one of the world’s most rapidly growing adaptive sport events. Since the deaf are not technically physically or intellectually disabled, deaf adaptive sports are known as their own category. The deaf community makes it clear that they do not consider being deaf a disability, because so much enhancement of life comes from being non-hearing in this world. The deaf community sees themselves as sensory disabled, if anything at all. Deaflympics is a shining example of this in modern times.

Paralympic Games is a multiple sports event, specially tailored to the needs of those with physical, mental or sensory disabilities. The games include persons with mobility problems, cerebral palsy, amputees and blind competitors. It is a diverse group from many backgrounds that comes to this event every four years. The even comes following the Olympic Games each time it is held, being self-governed under the International Paralympic Committee.

Special Olympics is practically a household word in modern society. This is the most widely recognized organizational event run for disabled athletes in the world. The concept of the Special Olympics was born with the help of Eunice Kennedy Shriver. She started a daytime camp for persons with intellectual disabilities, running it from her home back in 1962. This was a forerunner for the global Special Olympics, an event that first launched on July 20, 1968. This event was called the First International Special Olympics and was held at Soldier Field in the United States. Since, the spirit of Special Olympic tradition has carried itself forward proudly around the globe.

Disability Commonwealth Games is an attempt to change the world, but do it through active participation in human history. As grand as it sounds the Commonwealth Games have always wanted to take a lead position in social issues. For the first time in history during 2002 in Manchester, these games were included in a full inclusive sports program for para-sports. That year was the first time men and women from 20 differing countries came together as disabled athletes, and competed in 10 events over 5 differing para-sports. These were events in athletics, lawn bowling, table tennis, weightlifting, and swimming. As President Steadward of the International Paralympic Committee states,””What better way than by becoming the first major sports competition to integrate athletes with disabilities?”

Disabled Veteran Sports Activities

U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has made adaptive sports part of their programs across the United States. The role of disabled veterans is no less important or able to empower those with disabilities today. The games are utilized with disabled veteran groups to motivate, encourage, and sustain active participation through competition. All members and branches of the Armed Forces are welcomed, but especially those in partnerships with the national Veterans Administration hospitals or local adaptive sports organizations around the nation.

The Department for Disabled Veterans hosts a total of six nationally recognized sports events, the only requirement is being an eligible Veteran with disabilities. The VA is active in providing grants, funding, and assistance throughout the USA for the United States Olympic Committee to continue increasing the opportunities afforded to adaptive sports competitors. These opportunities include rather than exclude disabled persons, but also honor their victories as decorated Veterans from the Armed Forces. The work done by these groups has played a key role in developing a better view of disabilities for the entire disabled community.

Veterans have always recognized their connection with the physical and intellectual disabled persons communities. All share in dealing with stereotypes, prejudice, media perceptions, public assumptions, and generally bad attitudes toward the disabled person and their community. The military influence has help break down barriers that once existed in the athletic realms for participation and sporting competitions. The military veteran knows all too well, how the disabled person can become afflicted with low self-esteem and lack of self worth. These factors are even more pronounced with disabled women and female veterans. The right to be proud of who you are is not a gender problem, it is a human problem. Groups like these working together is actually changing the world, in ways once never thought possible.

Disability Sports in the Future

All disabled groups are being recognized more, both for their achievements and their needs in a global perspective. As this continues, it can be assumed that awareness will continue to challenge all people to overcome their personal prejudices, so that human beings will help uplift disabled persons, wherever they maybe at in the world. Over time, the collaboration of disabled individuals, disabled Veterans groups, support organizations, and the major athletics world in sports, these have made a stronger system that encourages achievement on all levels. This is the spirit of adaptive sports and the core of a new beginning for all people. Supporting adaptive sports and the players of them is one way of making a brighter future for humanity.

Jessica Kane is a writer for SteelLocker Sports, a leading retailer of brand name baseball equipment at great discount prices.

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