Looking for a way to manage the upcoming days of Grey and the ensuing Winter Time Blues that Michigan brings over the next several months? Ever try getting involved with adaptive sports for people with disabilities? Michigan State University has an Adaptive Sports program that offers an opportunity for people to try adaptive sports. People with disabilities that wish to try, can simply show up during one of their weekly open gym sessions. There, people with disabilities are getting active in tennis, ping pong, biking, rugby, floorball, bocce ball, and more. Whether you are interested in team or individual sports, or just looking to be more active, the MSU Adaptive Sports program is a great opportunity for experimentation and free of charge. Plenty of student volunteers are there to assist getting adjusted or into equipment, working with you towards your goals, or to compete against as you play. The atmosphere is relaxed with enthusiastic students and loaner equipment available for you to experience. Equipment such as sport chairs, arm bikes, or exercise equipment and more are already there for people to use or if you have your own to bring, that is welcome too.
When you are there interacting with other people, it creates a nice escape from daily life with a disability. You are simply another player on the team or someone that is getting exercise. No other label or stigma. In this safe environment you are able to leave your daily life and escape into an activity. It’s a totally different feeling when you are no longer in the minority and are among peers. As a person with a disability, whether it is true or not, it can feel isolating to enter a room full of people. As if the entire room stops and you feel their eyes follow your every movement. However, enter a room of others with similar disabilities and nobody looks twice. Unless you have some sweet gear or a service dog. Then you may get a second glance, but it’s out of jealousy and wanting what you have, rather than curiosity at the oddity entering in the room. When I go to a rugby tournament and the wheelchair users easily outnumber the non-chair users, it’s a different dynamic. I’ve heard the comment several times how it is different to have the roles reversed. There it is a gym full of people in wheelchairs and the people walking are in the minority for a change. Then the true gem is going outside and checking out the parking lot. All those people in wheelchairs had to get there somehow and had to park somewhere. The parking lot is typically a nice mix of angled parking and double spaced to allow for all the ramps and lifts in vehicles.
Adaptive sports aren’t just about getting active. It allows for real-life conversations among your peers with disabilities too. You realize you are not alone. Another large benefit to getting into adaptive sports is the ability to learn from others in similar scenarios. Asking and watching what other people do to make their lives easier, as those of us with disabilities know, that everyday life things can be hacked for better. How do you…? What about…? Where did you…? Equipment, sex, food, social life, aides, travel, school, work, activities, or anything you are comfortable with speaking/sharing, are important pieces to enjoying life and who better to speak with than those living similar lives?! #Awareness