KUDOS: Kids Unconditionally Deserving of Sports

March 27, 2013

This video is about great sportsmanship and giving those with disabilities the opportunity to participate and shine in sports. More people need to follow in Jonathan Montanez footsteps. After watching the video, you will see what I mean. The video is only two and a half minutes and it is well worth watching! 

Giving Others Their Moment To Shine

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Above is a photo of Mitchell Marcus, his coach, and Jonathan Montanez. 

March 27, 2013

 Jonathan Montanez shows that sportsmanship is more than just following the basic rules of the game and getting along with teammates and opponents. The high school student gave a whole new meaning to the definition “sportsmanship” when he passed the ball to an opponent named Mitchell Marcus who had a developmental disability. Mitchell was the manager of  the basketball team at Coronado High School and thoroughly loved the sport. He had never had the opportunity to play before and often sat on the sidelines and cheered on his team. His coach however allowed him to suit up for a game. Mitchell was thrilled that he was able to wear the uniform and had no clue that his coach had actually planned on playing him in the last period. The coach was still going to play Mitchell if the team was loosing, because he felt giving Mitchell the opportunity to play was more important than winning the game. In the last period, the coach called Mitchell in and Mitchell took a couple shots but did not get them in. In the last few seconds of the game, Jonathan called Mitchell’s name and threw him the ball. Jonathan caught the ball and got a basketball right before the buzzer went off.

How many times have you heard of a team member passing the ball to an opponent? How many times have you heard of a coach planning to play a player for the first time even if the team is losing? Most times when we have seen a team member passing the ball to an opponent, it has been a mistake or the opponent jumped in front and grabbed the ball. I know I have never seen a team member purposely pass the ball to an opponent, until I seen Jonathan do it. In the video posted above, Jonathan talks about how he believed that Mitchell deserved his chance to shine. Although Jonathan’s team was already loosing, they could have possibly still got a basket if he hadn’t passed the ball to Mitchell. However, Jonathan was thinking more about giving Mitchell the chance to get a basket. Jonathan not only made a difference by his gesture, but he also showed everyone at the game and people who would later watch the video what great sportsmanship is! If more people could focus on giving everyone a chance to participate in something they love, our world would be a much better place.

Remember: Everyone deserves a chance to participate in sports and winning is not everything. If you have had your moments to shine, give someone his or hers! 

What Do You Think?

March 25, 2013

Do you think children with disabilities are given all the opportunities they deserve to participate in sports? Do you think they are fully included in sports today, or do you think more could still be done to make them more included? 

March 23, 2013

Adaptive Sports for the Spring and Summer

March 23, 2013 

The first day of spring was three days ago so I thought this would be a good time to talk about adaptive sports for the spring and summer weather. I know the last couple days have still felt like its winter, but pretty sooner the weather will be nice and children will be itching to play outside. Some of the sports I am about to mention can be played either outdoors or indoors. Remember that most children have been cooped up for most of the winter, so try to balance the sports that are played indoor and outdoor. Almost every sport can be adapted for children with disabilities. However, because there are so many sports I am only going to focus on the most popular ones. 

Basketball

Children in wheelchairs can play basketball either indoor or outdoors. It is important that there is protective equipment on the chair if basketball is played indoors to protect the floors. Gymnasium floors are probably the best floors to play the sport on, because they are smooth. When you go outside you have to be careful for rocks and cracks in the pavement. If there are no small rocks or cracks in the pavement, it is safe for children in wheelchairs to play basketball outside.  Players can wheel themselves around in their chair and bounce the ball at the same time. Some people also like to get a cushion for their wheelchair to make their chair more comfortable for playing. Some people also might just want to take shots on a net and that’s fine. If children want a change up from the regular basketball game, you could make a game where they take shots on different nets. Once they get a shot on one net, they move to another net. These nets can be different heights or each net could be for a different shot. For example, at the first net the players could shoot from in front of the net and at the second net they could shoot from the right side. 

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Hockey

Children in wheelchairs can also play hockey. Usually there are five players on each team and children move around in their wheelchairs. This sport can be played either outdoors or indoors; just make sure there are no cracks or rocks that could be hazardous. Plastic sticks and blades, and small plastics balls are usually used to play the game. Children can also just take shots on a net if they don’t want to actually play hockey.

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Volleyball

Sitting volleyball is a great sport for people with double leg amputees, spinal cord injuries and people who are in wheelchairs. It is usually played with six players on each team, but it can always be played with less. Players sit on the floor and the net is lowered so that they can hit the ball over the net. However, usually players are supposed to remain sitting on the floor while hitting the ball. This sport can be played on a gymnasium floor or on the grass. However, when it’s nice outside, try to give children the opportunity to play in the grass. Many children don’t get this opportunity to play in the grass, so allowing them to would be a nice switch up from what they are used to. All you need to is two holes in the grass to put both poles of the volleyball net into and you could have yourself a volleyball game on the grass! 

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Soccer

Soccer is a sport that can be accommodated to fit the needs of many different people. People with visual impairments, Down syndrome, cerebral palsy, and autism can play soccer. Usually there are five players on a team as well as volunteers who help the children both on and off the field if need be. The playing field and the net area are also usually smaller than a regular field and net area are. People in wheelchairs can also play soccer. This is often called Power Soccer, and is usually played with only four players on each team. There are foot guards that can be attached to the front of the wheelchairs to hit the ball. The players must use their wheelchairs to get close to the ball, than they hit the ball with the guard. Both regular wheelchairs and motorized wheelchairs can be used in power soccer, but to make the game fair to everyone, it is best that everyone uses the same wheelchair. As you can see in the picture before, everyone is using motorized wheelchairs to play the game. 

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Tennis

Children in wheelchairs can also play tennis. In tennis, a child in a wheelchair usually is allowed two bounces before the ball is required to be returned to the other side of the court. Tennis can be played by two people in wheelchairs or by one person in a wheelchair and one who is not. However, people who are not in a wheelchair should only be allowed one bounce, and people in a wheelchair should still be allowed two. There are also prosthetic arms and legs that can be used to help amputees play.

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These are just some ways that these sports can be adapted. They don’t have to be played this exact way as long as the people playing can agree on that. For example, if two people in a wheelchair agree that each can have three bounces rather than two than that is fine. However, you can’t play a game if everyone is going by different rules, so try to agree on rules that accommodate everyone’s needs. Have fun, and remember, safety first!

My Sledge Hockey Experience

Above is a picture of me on the ice.

March 21, 2013

For those of you who haven’t watched my video, I had the opportunity to try sledge hockey last week. This was my first time trying and I didn’t really know what to expect. I had only ever heard about the sport before, so I had a lot to learn in just a short period of time. My friend Derek showed me his sledge hockey skills first and then he taught me some of them. I learned how to hold the sticks, how to skate, how to turn, and how to stop. The first thing I noticed was that sledge hockey was more challenging than I had thought. When I was using the bottom of the sticks to push my sled across the ice, it was difficult to turn the sticks around to grab the puck and shoot. The puck would often slide past me before I turned my sticks around or I had to stop my sled in order to get the puck. I was unable to use one stick to move my sled and one to move the puck at the same time. I quickly realized that this sport mainly requires upper body strength, and since I don’t I have much upper body strength I needed both arms to move myself on the ice. My friend Derek who has been playing for 13 years could use one stick to move himself and one to move the puck. My biggest struggle was getting up off the ice once I had fallen over in my sled. I was supposed to use one of the sticks to push myself up, but I was not able to get up without someone helping me.

Before I tried sledge hockey, I never really seen the challenges within it. Trying it made me realize that people without disabilities can actually struggle in sports that are for people with disabilities. I feel that more people without disabilities need to try some of the sports that people with disabilities participate in in order to fully understand some of the challenges they endure in sports. I don’t think people can fully understand these challenges until they actually try a sport out. I know I have a better understanding now that I struggled to skate on the sled and play sledge hockey. I encourage those of you that have never tried sledge hockey before to try it. It was a wonderful opportunity for me and I would not give up an opportunity in the future to try it again. For those of you that can’t try sledge hockey, try to play basketball in a wheelchair, or volleyball sitting on the ground to see some of the challenges that people with disabilities face. You may think you can play some of the sports they play without any struggles, but you may notice that you quickly change your mind after you have actually tried one.

 

March 21, 2013

March 20, 2013

Hello everyone,

The first half of this video consists of an interview with Derek Whitson, a Paralympian athlete who was born with cerebral palsy and who has used sports throughout his life to improve his condition. He has played sledge hockey for most of his life and has been on the National Sledge Hockey Team since 2007. In the second half of the video, Derek also shows us some of his sledge hockey skills on the ice and teaches the basics of the sport. There is also footage of me on the ice with Derek learning the basics of sledge hockey and trying to skate on the sled for my very first time! Derek proves that children with disabilities can play sports and he encourages young children who have dreams in sports to pursue them like he has. Hope you enjoy my very first video!

Physical Activity for Children with Cerebral Palsy

March 19, 2013

 March is Cerebral Palsy Awareness Month and since it is March, I thought it would be a good time to share some activities for children with cerebral palsy. It is very important that children with cerebral palsy participate in physical activities and learn how to stay active at a young age so that it will become part of their everyday routine. Physical activity and exercise should be apart of every child’s day if possible, because it helps to keep a child’s condition from getting worse. However, if you are unsure about what are appropriate and inappropriate activities for a child, get approval from your doctor. What is appropriate for one person may not be appropriate for another person, so it is better to be safe and check with a doctor. Physical activity not only helps to improve a child’s physical development, but also their mental development as well. Staying active can relieve both discomfort from cerebral palsy and any stress the person may have.

Activities for Children with Cerebral Palsy:

  • Bike riding
  • Fishing
  • Swinging on a swing
  • Sports, such as baseball, soccer, and sledge hockey
  • Swimming
  • Playing catch
  • Kicking a ball back and forth with another person
  • Dance
  • Yoga
  • Visit the park and zoo- this is very good for a child’s sensory development and also very fun!
  • Blowing and popping bubbles with fingers
  • Bowling
  • Build something out of Playdough with hands

Some of you are probably thinking some of the activities listed above, such as popping bubbles with fingers and playing with Playdough don’t seem like physical activities. Walking, running, and swimming are normally the types of physical activity we think of, however, I thought it was important to add in a couple activities that require movement of the hands. The reason I felt this was important is because exercising the hands helps to strengthen the muscles within the hands. All these activities can help to strengthen weak muscles and improve a person’s wellbeing. You don’t have to do all of these activities. If the child only likes swimming and doesn’t want to try any other types of activities, that’s fine. There are many other activities that may interest children that are not on this list and that will also help to strengthen muscles. Find activities that the child enjoys and help improve their conditions. You will be very surprised by the changes that will come from physical activity! 

March is __________ Awareness Month. What disability goes in the blank?

  Autism 

  Cerebral Palsy

  Cystic fibrosis 

  Down syndrome

  Spina bifida 

Feel free to post what months go with the other disabilities listed above! 

March 19, 2013