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Recreation Activities

The benefits of sports and other recreational activities can be many. Recreation provides opportunities for children to enhance their physical, mental, and emotional health, as well build their independence and self esteem/self-image. The participation of children with disabilities in sports and recreational activities also promotes inclusion, minimizes deconditioning, optimizes physical functioning, and enhances overall well-being (Physical characteristics and etiology in children with ID (Word Document 3 KB)). Regular physical activity is essential for the maintenance of normal muscle strength, flexibility, and joint structure and function, and it may slow the functional decline often associated with disabling conditions (Transition Tips for Young Adults (PDF Document 348 KB)). But recreational activities—whether soccer, swimming, or singing in a choir--can also provide opportunities to develop friendships and social support networks with both disabled and typically-developing peers.
However, many people with disabilities have difficulty engaging in recreational opportunities outside of the home. Finding local organizations and services that offer adaptive recreation programs can be the key to helping your child get involved. Check with local organizations like parks and recreation centers, the YMCA, your child’s school, or Easter Seals, to find out abut the clubs or teams that might be fun for your child. The Medical Home Portal’s adaptive recreation services category lists the organizations we know of for the chosen region: see all Adaptive Recreation services providers (64) in our database. Encourage your child to try any activities that interest him or her. From downhill skiing to gardening, there’s bound to be an activity that is enjoyable and invigorating for your child.
Your child may need adapted equipment or adjustments in order to participate. Occupational or physical therapists can often help adapt equipment. In many circumstances, readily available athletic equipment and toys can be adapted to better serve your child.
Summer camps, outdoor adventures, sports from baseball to horsebackriding … We hope the links on this page will inspire you and your child to get involved in all kinds of recreation. For more information on specific adaptive sports, click on the links below.
For more information on adaptive sports and recreation opportunities and events in your area like skiing, rock climbing, rafting, etc., check for your state on the Disabled Sports USA and Sports Abilities websites.

Resources

Information & Support

For Parents and Patients

Recreation (PDF Document 124 KB)
This handout provides brief information for teens and young adults about recreation, leisure, and social activities; from the Institute for Community Inclusion at Children's Hospital, Boston.

Special Olympics USA
Provides year-round sports training and athletic competition for children and adults with intellectual disability, giving them continuing opportunities to develop physical fitness, demonstrate courage, experience joy, and participate in a sharing of gifts, skills and friendship with their families, other Special Olympics athletes, and the community

Special Olympics Utah
Special Olympics Utah provides year-round sports training and athletic competition in 20 Olympic-type sports for children and adults with intellectual disability, giving them continuing opportunities to develop physical fitness, demonstrate courage, experience joy, and participate in a sharing of gifts, skills and friendship with their families, other Special Olympics athletes, and the community.

NICHCY camps
Camps for those with special needs and general camp info and opportunities, National Dissemination Center for Children with Disabilities (NICHCY)

Services

Adaptive Recreation

See all Adaptive Recreation services providers (64) in our database.

Camps

See all Camps services providers (101) in our database.

Recreation Programs/Activities

See all Recreation Programs/Activities services providers (249) in our database.

For other services related to this condition, browse our Services categories or search our database.

Authors

Author: Shena McAuliffe, MFA - 6/2012
Reviewing Author: Gina Pola-Money - 6/2012
Content Last Updated: 7/2012