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Archive for the ‘exercise/sports’ Category

Touchdown video seen round the world

Thursday, October 14th, 2010

Steve Kelley, Seattle Times columnist, reflects on Ike Ditzenberger, the 17-year-old high school football player with Down syndrome whose touchdown run was captured on video and circulated around the globe. At last count, the Youtube clip documenting Ike’s effort had gotten more than 2.36 million views.

Writes Kelley: Ditzenberger’s touchdown, which he accomplished with the active support of both teams, was “a reminder of everything that is good about sports and about life.” An excerpt:

Ike’s story is about much more than this one football play.

It is a reminder of the infinite capacity of the human heart. It is about Mark Perry’s compassion. It is about the ability of the young players from Lake Stevens to understand the importance of the moment and act selflessly when it would have been so easy to be selfish.

It is about the Snohomish team’s unconditional love of their teammate and about Ike’s parents’ love for their child.

“We’ve seen Ike brighten,” Kay Ditzenberger said. “He no longer sits in the back at the assembly. He’s right there in the front row. Football has elevated his self-opinion. He doesn’t feel different. He doesn’t perceive his handicap. They’ve given him the gift of normalcy.

“They (Snohomish players) set aside the handicap and saw the person first. They recognize the handicap secondly and they accommodate and adapt to that.”

See also:

  • Time magazine
  • Seattle Times video. Includes interview with coach Mark Perry: ‘I think this is a moment when the humanity and the sportsmanship shine through.’
  • Seattle Times story: Ike’s prom date with Emily Zylstra, the homecoming princess and Snohomish County Dairy Princess.

Brad Hennefer highlights the possibilities

Tuesday, August 10th, 2010

Kevin Minnick, writing for the Cherry Hill [NJ] Courier-Post, profiles Brad Hennefer, the 21-year-old athlete who is the heart of the Brad Hennefer Golf for Life Foundation.

The foundation. which introduces the game of golf to people with Down syndrome, was created in 2006 by Brad and his brother Bobby, mother Nancy and father Bob (above). An excerpt:

… Never in their wildest dreams could they have imagined how far the foundation would come in such a short period of time.

What began as clinics has transcended into public speaking around the country, participation in national events, hob-nobbing with celebrities.

… “We never dreamed he would be doing what he’s doing,” Nancy said. “Families see hope when they see him.”

… In life, people come and go. Then there are those you never forget because they’ve made a difference. That’s Brad Hennefer.

Oh yeah.

Earlier posts here.

Virginia high school uses sports to foster inclusion

Friday, April 30th, 2010

From WUSA9-TV, Washington, DC:

At Pope Paul VI High School in Fairfax, VA, students with intellectual disabilities are included in activities throughout the school, participating on such athletic teams as wrestling and basketball.

It’s all part of the school’s Options program, which started a little over ten years ago. The program brings trained professionals and student volunteers together to work with the kids with disabilities.

“Everyone learns to be comfortable with and foster friendships with those with disabilities,” said Chris Desmarais, who oversees Options. One mother said about her son, “”He’s no different in anyone else’s eyes. He’s a part of this school.”

See the video here.

Twins’ new ballpark gets high praise for disability access

Monday, April 19th, 2010

From the Minneapolis Star Tribune:

Perhaps the most overlooked accolade among those piled on the Minnesota Twins’ new ballpark is how well it caters to people with disabilities.

Dominic Marinelli, a national consultant who has worked on a number of new stadiums, called Target Field “the most accessible one in the country.”

“It sets a standard for the next ones,” said Marinelli, vice president for accessibility services with New York-based United Spinal Association. “We’re trying to use tricks from Target Field at Madison Square Garden…”

See also: Fans applaud Target Field accessibility — Minnesota Public Radio

Earlier post here.

Maryland schools open sports to kids with disabilities

Friday, March 26th, 2010

From the Baltimore Sun:

The organization governing school sports in Maryland has changed its rules to allow students with disabilities to participate alongside their peers in some cases.

The decision, believed to be the first of its kind in the nation, follows a successful federal lawsuit by Paralympic athlete Tatyana McFadden, who four years ago won the right to compete in mainstream school track meets. The state’s general assembly then passed a law requiring Maryland schools to design programs to accommodate athletes with disabilities.

Under new language adopted by the Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association (MPSSAA) this week, students with disabilities may participate in mainstream sports programs if they meet eligibility requirements, do not present a risk to themselves or others, and do not change the nature of the game or event.

The MPSSAA also called on school systems to establish sports programs for students with disabilities who do not qualify to participate in mainstream athletic programs.

Paralympic Games set records, open doors

Tuesday, March 23rd, 2010

From the Toronto Star:

Canadian athletes shattered records at the 2010 Paralympic Winter Games, bringing home 19 medals, ten of them gold. The unrivalled hero of the games was Canadian alpine skier Lauren Woolstencroft, whose five gold medals set a new record for female athletes in the Winter Paralympics.

Canadian athletes said they were helped by increased public funding, which gave them access to the same coaching, equipment and sports medicine as their Olympic counterparts. An excerpt:

… these Games, which opened on March 12 at a sold-out B.C. Place with the theme “One Inspires Many,” were never just about medals and records.

They were about inclusion and acceptance of athletes – and all people – with disabilities.

… While the high profile of Paralympians is sure to fade with the end of the Games, it’s hoped that their legacy is a new awareness – among both the able-bodied and people with disabilities – that there’s no such thing as a barrier to being physically fit.

Canada’s Olympic Broadcast Media Consortium estimated that television viewership was way up, with 13.6 million Canadians watching at least a portion of the coverage of the Games. But critics continued to complain that coverage had been inadequate, especially in comparison with the television coverage of the Olympics.

Paralympics icon Hansen says Games have come a long way

Friday, March 19th, 2010

In the Toronto Globe and Mail, Canadian athlete Rick Hansen says the Paralympic Games have made great progress since he won six medals for wheelchair racing in 1980 and 1984.

He cites improvements in training, equipment and sponsorship, but acknowledges that “it’s going to be a difficult challenge” to bring broader acceptance to the Games. An excerpt from the interview with Sarah Hampson:

“Exposure is key,” he says. The sports are “not about fragility,” he says, cautioning me not to be romantic by thinking that a disabled person’s participation in sport is a way to restore faith in a broken body. “It’s just great competition.”

His philosophy is evident in everything he says: Dwell not on what you don’t have, or can’t have; focus on what you have and are able to do …

“Usually the biggest demon is not out there,” he says, gesturing to the world outside his window. “It’s what is inside your head.”

Hansen raised $26 million for spinal cord research and awareness through a 34-nation wheelchair tour shortly after his Paralympics victories, and will soon kick off a new global initiative with a target of $200 million.

Earlier posts here.

(Photo from Globe and Mail)

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More than 50 million people in the United States have disabilities, a number that is growing rapidly as the population ages. Experts say disability will soon affect the lives of most Americans. This website attempts to aggregate news and commentary about disability, and to document the efforts of people who are seeking new ways to address familiar challenges.

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