People with limited mobility could get agitated and lethargic from sitting in a wheelchair for prolonged periods of time.
Posts Tagged 'athletes'
I frequently encounter individuals who have limited upper body strength, making it difficult to maneuver a ramp on an accessible van. But after a month or two with a rehab specialist, they overcome this weakness with ease.
In the past two weeks I’ve had the privilege of observing some of the most elite, well-respected athletes on the planet. I did so for the sake of sport and athleticism, as well as to hope for a single glimpse or sweat droplet that would lead me closer to understanding the likes of these select few. From ultra-marathoners to professional cyclists, it is clear to see that none of them made it very far without breaking some boundaries and pushing their bodies and brains to the most unheard of levels.
When you were a child, didn’t you grow up wishing you could “be somebody?” Somebody that people would recognize, look up to, admire, almost idolize. Ever since I was a small child I desperately wanted to be something great, probably as most children do. Maybe go to the moon, run for president, play professional sports, become an award winning singer or actor, anything!! Every child’s dream is to be: GREAT.
Recently, my young son expressed an interest in participating in a highly competitive track meet. The best students from across the city were going to gather for a big event and close to one thousand runners would fill the stadium with noise and frenetic energy. Although Michael has autism he is a very capable young athlete who has enjoyed success against his peers. We both agreed he was ready for the challenge. As the track meet approached I noticed that he was becoming increasingly anxious. Soon, with any mention of the track meet, his tears would start to flow. No amount of calming or reassuring words could alleviate his anxiety. He decided not to participate – this was something that I fully supported – and Michael’s sense of relief was almost palpable. I could not easily explain his change of heart. After a few days of gentle questioning I discovered that Michael was anxious about the length of the university track (400m) and his belief that it was much bigger than the track we practice on (also 400m). He had allowed this belief to undermine his confidence.
A few weeks ago I wrote a blog titled “Teaching sports to special needs athletes: A tripod of influences”. In that blog I discussed how pedagogy (how you teach), content (what you teach) and relationships all contribute to the effectiveness of the athlete’s participation and enjoyment of sports. Positive athlete –coach relationships are particularly important for special needs athletes. Coaches are in a powerful position to role model, mentor and advocate for athletes for whom the social aspects of sports present challenges. Research has shown that peer culture (especially in sports), when role modeled by a coach that values diversity, can support effective and authentic inclusion. The consequence is that athletes with challenges feel valued and accepted by teammates. Sadly, this is not the universal experience of some special needs athletes. Some of these athletes participate in “a culture of exclusion which posits that isolating and marginalizing someone is appropriate, acceptable and sometimes even laudatory” (Sapon-Shevin, 2003).
As I sit here, on a fairly monochrome twin bed somewhere in the right kidney of the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, I can take a breath of knowledge and feel that my concept of teamwork is being transformed, much in the way that I anticipated.
The exponential growth of Facebook, and other forms of social media, have powerfully demonstrated the importance we human beings place on feeling connected to others. Successful participation in this interconnected world now requires us to be capable of swift and articulate interactions with others. The rewards for competent practitioners of these social skills are considerable: They can influence social status and elevate the individual’s sense of well-being.