The University of Alabama-Huntsville’s Ability Sport Network Program is helping students with disabilities become more physically active.
The program is an adapted youth sport league focusing on Paralympic sports and intended for middle and high school students with functional limitations based on physical disabilities. These can include but are not limited to amputation, paralysis, or other impairments caused by a spinal cord injury, traumatic brain injury, cerebral palsy, or stroke. Students should not be eligible for Special Olympics in order to participate in the ASN.
The program director, David Kyle, says his main focus is to give kids and young adults a more entertaining way to be active.
“When you look at the statistics for people with disabilities, they’re not physically active. So that’s our major focus, that’s our heart of the program,” Kyle said.
One of the program’s sports is seeing the hard work pay off. The wheelchair basketball team has been invited to play in the NWBA National Tournament in Chicago, Ill. The tournament will be from March 28-31.
Kyle says the price of traveling with the equipment can get steep. That’s why parents of players are looking for a way to help reduce the stress. To help, visit the UAH Ability Sport Network Facebook Page and leave them a message.
The ASN is funded by a grant from the Alabama Commission on Higher Education (ACHE). Its purpose is twofold: to encourage participation among North Alabama middle and high school students with physical disabilities in adapted physical activity, and to provide UAH students in the Department of Kinesiology with real-world experience in the oversight, maintenance, and growth of adapted physical activities and sports.
ASN currently offers wheelchair basketball and boccia leagues. Boccia is a “bowling” game involving strategy and accuracy. The sport includes athletes with impairments that affect motor skills and is played sitting down in a wheelchair or regular chair.
There is no cost to participate in any ASN league and all equipment is provided, including sport wheelchairs and game uniforms. Moreover, participation is not limited to wheelchair users only; many players have the ability to walk.
Future sports may include seated volleyball, wheelchair tennis, and track & field.
If you have a student or child interested in participating in ASN and would like to sign up for game notifications, click here.
Courtesy of https://www.uah.edu/asn.