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Accessible athletics

The benefits of taking part in sports are abundant. They include physical fitness, increased self-esteem, improved social skills and enhanced academic performance among many, many others.

These advantages should extend to all regardless of their abilities – that’s where adaptive sports come in.

What are adaptive sports?

Adaptive sports are activities that take into consideration the abilities of each individual or group. Modifications are made to equipment and support is offered to remove barriers to activity. Adaptive sports are abilities based. 

“By working with each person’s unique abilities and strengths, by providing specialized adaptive equipment, professional instructors, and experienced support, we can remove the barriers to participation,” says Janine Giles, outreach coordinator with Rocky Mountain Adaptive.

Rocky Mountain Adaptive is a Canmore-based registered charity, which provides multiple activity programs at minimal cost to enable children and youth with physical, developmental or cognitive impairments to participate, learn and excel in mountain sport and recreation activities. 

“Adaptive sports can range from never-ever beginner to elite competition in international competitions. Most people, however, participate in adaptive sports to get into nature, do activities with their friends and family, and to connect with new friends and peer groups,” adds Janine.

There are dozens of adaptive sports offerings in the Calgary area, including winter sports (skiing, tobogganing, snowshoeing, skating, etc.) and summer sports (hiking, swimming, fishing, golfing, sailing, fencing, etc.)

Adaptive sports are a good fit for individuals who are neurodivergent (autism, ADHD, dyslexia etc.), or have sensory or physical challenges which can limit access to regular sports and programs. 

Why take part?

For those with challenges, taking part in adaptive sports gives them a sense of belonging and feeling of inclusion.  

“For many families, adaptive sports and recreational activities have become part of their traditions and are an important way to experience time together,” says Janine.

“As guests returned to outdoor activities (after the COVID-19 restrictions were lifted), we witnessed major social recovery as individuals reconnected with familiar instructors, volunteers, and friends in the programs. They also reconnected with their favorite outdoor places such as lakes, biking trails, and ski areas. Guests quickly made gains in their physical and mental well-being with a return to adaptive sports and recreation.” 

Additional benefits of taking part in adaptive sports include increased independence, self-esteem, strength, coordination, mobility, motor planning, movement execution, and overall health and well-being.

For more information about adaptive sport and programming opportunities near you, visit Rocky Mountain Adaptive (rockymountainadaptive.com), Sport Calgary (sportcalgary.ca) and Calgary Adapted Hub (calgaryadaptedhub.com). 

 

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