How your Child can Benefit from Adaptive and Unified Sports

Adaptive and Unified Sports are a great way to introduce your child to sports and competition.

Adaptive and Unified sports are bringing athletes together

Is your son or daughter an athletic competitor in the making? Perhaps he has been watching powerlifting events and now he is looking for a trainer. Maybe she got a basketball for her birthday and is asking if she can join a team. If your child has physical and mental disabilities, you may wonder what sort of athletic opportunities are available and how to find them.

Athletic programs designed specifically to meet the needs of special population athletes are increasingly gaining traction and Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) certified gyms are opening up across the country. Trainers in these gyms are well-versed Regular athletic activity can provide tangible health and wellness benefits for kids whether they have autism, down syndrome, cerebral palsy, or another disability.

When you find a gym that is a good fit for your child, talk with the trainers and encourage your child to share her vision of what she is hoping to get out of the experience. If being part of a sports team or training for solo sporting competitions like powerlifting is the goal, a trainer can work one-on-one with your child to help build the necessary skills.

Adaptive Sports

When your child is ready to join a team or showcase skills in an individual sport, adaptive sports organizations offer a unique opportunity to compete against others with a similar type of disability. Adaptive sports are competitive sports specifically for people with disabilities.

The rules of these sports allow the modifications necessary for people with disabilities to participate. For example, adaptive volleyball uses a lower net and all players sitting on the floor. Wheelchair basketball is another common adaptive team sport.

The beauty of adaptive sports is by grouping adaptive athletes into categories based on the type of level of impairment; you create a level playing field. The groupings negate the impact of the shared disability and instead allow all your child’s training, hard work, and dedication to excellence shine through.

For a child with competitive drive and lofty dreams, the Paralympics which is open to elite athletes having physical disabilities may be the next step.

Unified Sports

One of the pioneers in the unified sports movement has been the Special Olympics. As an organization, they believe in “promoting social inclusion through sport.” In addition to their competitions specifically for athletes with intellectual disabilities, the Special Olympics organization also includes unified sports teams.

A unified sports team is made up of people who are similar in age and ability whether they are athletes with or without intellectual disabilities. A shared love for the sport brings teammates together where they get to know each other and bridge past any preconceptions or misunderstandings.

Often what so many athletes with disabilities want is to truly be a part of the team and not be relegated to the sidelines. They deserve to be an integral part of the group’s success, and unified sporting organizations are committed to recognizing and honoring that.

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In this article, we will explore how kids with special needs can reap the physical, mental, and emotional benefits from participating in sports.
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