Summertime is a time to celebrate a break from school, warm weather, and memories with friends. At times, young adults and children with disabilities feel disconnected to their peers because of the lack of inclusion based summer activities. Here is where The Ability Center comes in.
Sarah Krueger, Community Connections Manager, shares how with the help of our community partners, we are able to provide children in our area fun, safe, and inclusive summer experiences!
Within our Community Connections Department, we have many partnerships in our community that provide recreational opportunities that are adapted and inclusive. Examples include cycling, wheelchair basketball, wheelchair football, wheelchair softball, kayaking, scuba diving, archery, art classes, dance, fishing, fitness classes, hunting, skiing, sled hockey, and intermural sports.
One opportunity that has been established in our community is Adapted Sports Program of Ohio (ASPO). Their organization has a local sled hockey team for youth and adults that travels to different tournaments all over the state. ASPO also provides local wheelchair softball, basketball, and football programs. The Ability Center has also worked closely with area Metroparks to develop various opportunities for people with disabilities to participate in their programming. They have acquired adapted kayak equipment, a recumbent trike that is stationed at Wildwood Metropark and can be signed out at no cost. They also have many youth with disabilities included in their summer camp program.
Social activities bring confidence and enjoyment for those living with disabilities. Feeling connected to a group of people all enjoying participating in the same activity is such an important part of a higher quality of life and provides great health and wellness benefits. We have seen a huge improvement in children’s confidence, motivation, and initiative when they are working towards something that they really enjoy, whether that be a sport or leisure activity. For young adults getting involved in a recreational or leisure activity is a great way to meet people. We see a huge issue with teens that have graduated high school struggling to make friends because they aren’t surrounded by other kids all day every day. To prevent that isolation, we encourage people to stay involved in their community and participate in things that will continue to provide an active social life and build lifelong friendships.
The Ability Center in Ottawa County was instrumental in the development of an accessible playground in Port Clinton, Ohio. It will be accessible for all children with and without disabilities, so siblings and friends can play as well, making it welcoming for all families. It will encourage independence in kids and provide freedom to build peer relationships as they won’t require someone right by their side helping them utilize the equipment.
For more information about summer recreational opportunities, contact our office at 419-885-5733.