Take basketball, soccer and cheerleading play stations, mix in some necessary adaptive equipment, invite kids with physical disabilities and their siblings, and the result is the first ever March Adaptive Madness Event.
The March 20 event was a collaboration of the Mahoning Valley Parent Advisory Council and Adaptive Sports Program of Ohio (ASPO), an organization that provides competitive and recreational adaptive sport opportunities throughout Ohio.
“The Parent Advisory Council has been working with Dr. Sheryl Handler to come up with some sort of support for the families who are in her practice,” said Judy Doyle, a PAC member. “Two of our members — one who does adaptive sports and another who works at Adaptive Sports — suggested a March Madness event, to coincide with the college basketball playoffs.”
“I was so excited to provide this opportunity for my patients who, because of their orthopedic disabilities, often feel isolated when it comes to participating in sporting activities,” said Dr. Handler, pediatric orthopedic surgeon at Akron Children’s Hospital.
“Every child should be able to enjoy a game of basketball or hockey or to cheer on their friends from the sidelines. This program enabled my patients to experience these joys just like their able-bodied peers and I was honored to be a part of it along with the Akron Children’s Parent Advisory Council and the Adaptive Sports Program of Ohio.”
Fun for everyone
Approximately 60 parents, children and volunteers attended the event at the YSU Stambaugh Gymnasium. The 20 participants (which also included some adults with physical disabilities) challenged each other and themselves during the 2-hour event, with ASPO providing equipment for the Wheelchair Basketball, Power Wheelchair Soccer and Miss Dana’s Diamond Cheerleading play stations.
Events such as these provide children with disabilities the opportunity to try the adaptive sports that are offered in the Valley, said Courtney Kurth, ASPO Outreach Coordinator and member of PAC, whose own son has a disability. “Akron Children’s Hospital is our hospital. I wanted to be involved and be able to provide input based on our experiences that could benefit other families like mine.”
PAC is planning 2 more adaptive events in 2016 — one in the summer and the second in the fall. “This is a way to offer support and a fun activity for our patients and their families,” said Judy.