Promoting Participation in Sports for Disabled Youth

special10n-1-webThe opportunity for physical activities are endless–for everyone. With that said, why isn’t everyone participating in sports or recreational activities? The answer? The opportunities are simply not equal. Disabled children should be given the same opportunity to partake in sports and activities as any other child. In schools, it is up to the institution to provide accessible and fair equipment for those who require it.

According to the Americans with Disabilities Act, facilities and institutions must provide proper accessibility and equipment for the disabled. Still, today we are faced with many issues regarding this–facilities not following the guidelines of the act. In recent news, a boy with special needs was not allowed to participate in his field day–so he fought back. According to the news story, 14-year-old Jake Wesely fought back when his school told him he could not participate in his school’s field day due being “medically exempt.” After bringing it to the school’s attention, the school board found that this was an old policy that had been implemented and overlooked for years–the school issued an apology.

How can we promote sports participation for disabled youth?

We can start by nixing these more than decade-old policies that were implemented sometime in the 70s or 80s. The sheer fact that this school did not realize they’d been sending hurtful letters to disabled students for years is shocking. Everyone deserves the opportunity to exercise their rights and partake in sports–including students. With that said, if schools don’t have disability accommodations in place, it’s time to start implementing them.

Providing ADA-approved equipment

In workout rooms, gyms, and other recreational facilities, ADA-approved equipment should be accessible. Even sports, such as wheelchair basketball, is a great sport to offer at middle and high schools for not only disabled students, but everyone.

The right to participate

Everyone deserves the right to participate in any activity, therefore, schools and other institutions should acknolwedge just how important physical activity is for youth. Unfortunately, today, individuals with disabilities still face a large extent of segregation and negativity. It’s up to teachers, officials, and so many others to promote the participation of youth in sports and recreational activities.

About the Author: Stephanie is a guest contributor for, a manufacturer of handicap pool lifts for aquatic access.

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