Born without a right hand and forearm, Natalia Partyka won the Paralympic championship in 2004. Paola Fantato has been a wheelchair user since the age of eight, yet she was the first athlete to compete in the Olympics and the Paralympics in 1996. Silver-medal-winner Terence Parkin has been deaf since birth, but that didn’t stop him from winning medals in swimming competitions. There are many athletes with disabilities who inspire us with their competitive spirit. Whether it’s winning races, grappling on the wrestling mat, or riding the ocean waves, athletes with disabilities stand as the epitome of strength and success.
Posts Tagged 'inclusion'
In 2008, I achieved my greatest athletic goal. I became a Paralympian. Shortly after I joined Team USA, I like most elite athletes, attended a media training session. I nervously sat in a beige hotel conference room, staring at the abstractly-designed carpet beneath my feet. 20 Paralympians surrounded me, representing almost every Paralympic sport. Gold medalists, world-record holders, the poster-children of the Games – we breathed the same air. Suddenly, the leader of the session walked in and began to speak.
This month we celebrate the Americans with Disabilities Act’s (ADA) 25th anniversary! The ADA was created in 1990 to make sure that people with disabilities have the same rights and opportunities as people without disabilities. This includes the opportunity to live a healthy life!
“You have to watch this video.”
I heard that half a dozen times this week, and I said it half a dozen other times to other people. I posted it on my social media sites. It made me want to buy shoes. It made me want to buy Nike shoes … forever.
Recently, I was asked to test out a power chair at the Red Mountain Park in Hoover, Alabama. At first I was very reluctant because I know that going through mountain trials and dirt roads would not be very fun in my manual chair. So, I simply avoid them all together. However, I was introduced to a power device that changed my view. Literally!
Today in Birmingham, Alabama was my first event to celebrate the 25th Anniversary of the American’s with Disabilities Act (ADA). We had in attendance community leaders, health organizations, state, and city representatives. However, there was something missing…
On April 17-18, we hosted an event at James Madison University in Harrisonburg, VA, that we call Ability Olympics with the mission of showing how everyone can be an athlete. I work with Dr. Tom Moran on this event (he does weekly programming for youth with disabilities to stay physically active), and our goal has been simple: provide sport opportunities to people with disabilities because we did not have those opportunities growing up.
When we think of adaptive sports, also known as sports for people with disabilities, we usually think of wheelchair basketball, which not only has an international following, it’s also a Paralympic sport. However, basketball is not the only adaptive sport out there; there is also wheelchair rugby, Goalball for the visually impaired, cycling, and tennis, all of which are also Paralympic events.
In a recent USA Today article the US surgeon general states that he will soon make a call to action for people to be walking. This of course includes all people even those with limb loss. More importantly all people with disabilities.