ADAPTIVE SPORTS FOR SOCIAL CHANGE
In collaboration with Clemson University, San Diego Diplomacy Council and Kids Play International, we promote social change for underserved youth – primarily those with disabilities – in Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Korea, Myanmar and Thailand, through a cooperative agreement with the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.
This project, Adaptive Sports for Social Change (ASSC), provides sports trainings for youth, coaches and sports administrators that will help to establish sustainable life-changing sports programs. ASSC’s impact will creates a positive shift in attitudes within communities towards individuals with disabilities thereby creating social change for this underserved population.
In March 2018 winter Paralympic Games, Project Adaptive Sports for Social Change (ASSC) conducted adaptive ski and snowboard trainings for Korean coaches and youth with disabilities. A group of eight U.S. coaches, three NAC staff and twelve youth with disabilities (age 16+) with four chaperones traveled to Seoul, Korea March 5-13, 2018.
An important part of this project is to expose participants to diverse cultures and experience a variety of customs, traditions, lifestyles, food and much more. We included a group of American youth to join our team to experience the Korean culture and for the Korean youth to get to know and learn about life in the United States.
In 2015, the National Ability Center held a sports exchange for disabled youths from Chiang Mai and Nong Khai in Thailand to establish sustainable sports programs. The exchange was a US-Thailand initiative that had professional trainers conduct a six-day program to 150 coaches and 200 youths with disabilities, introducing them to adaptive sports.
The sports include wheelchair basketball, aquatics, table tennis, field games, sitting volleyball and archery. A group of teachers, athletes, and government officials from Thailand also visited the National Ability Center to experience a wider variety of sports training and meetings with other disability service providers. The initiative’s goal was to develop potential and transform perceptions.
In 2013, the National Ability Center partnered with the Department of State’s SportsUnited program to create “Project ECEA”. The initiative established sustainable sports programs for youth with physical and developmental disabilities in Cancun, Merida, and Chetumal, Mexico.
Over 18 months, 250 coaches and nearly 300 youth participated in trainings for various sports. A group of ten Mexican coaches attended an adaptive sports training at the National Ability Center in Park City, Utah. The participants learned about specific sports, program design, and implementation. The group also experienced the center’s programs such as ropes course, archery, wheelchair basketball, water-skiing, canoeing, wheelchair tennis, horseback riding, and hand-cycling.
Back in 2011, the National Ability Center proved to be an incredible source of support for individuals with disabilities. In fact, one of their incredible missions included providing disabled sports training for an entire group of ten coaches and school officials from Yogyakarta, Indonesia. As part of a magnificent project called Project YEP, these particular individuals were lucky enough to receive an ECA grant through Wheels for Humanity.
As a result of this opportunity, the exchange participants were able to gain training and insight regarding specific sports skills. Additionally, they were exposed to “best practices” within a variety of adaptive sports. Most notably, seeing the National Ability Center’s programs in action was truly amazing.
SportUnited 2008-2009 was a project aimed at promoting adaptive sports skills training for coaches and young people with disabilities in Thailand. The project was undertaken by the National Ability Center and was spread over two years from 2007 to 2008. During this time, NAC trained 55 coaches and over 60 youths in Chiang Mai and Khon Kaen with the necessary skills to participate in adaptive sports.
The program had a significant impact on the lives of people with disabilities in these communities by improving their access to sports activities that they would not have been able to participate in before. To make this initiative a success, the project partnered with UCP Wheels for Humanity, which provided 170 wheelchairs to enable those with physical challenges to move around freely and participate in sports.
2006-2007, National Ability Center traveled to Chaing Mai and Pattaya, Thailand to conduct the International Sports Initiative for Individuals with Disabilities (ISI) project, funded by a grant from the Department of State’s SportsUnited program. ISI offered sports training for more than 80 athletes and in six sports.
The project included an exchange visit to the National Ability Center by ten Thai coaches and advocates, (eight of whom had disabilities) and included activities that celebrated the cultures of the two groups. Two disabled sports training programs in Chiang Mai and Pattaya were birthed out of the ISI project, and are still in operation today.
1997-2003, National Ability Center conducted annual alpine ski training camps in Spain. These camps focused on three days of instructor training followed by a three-day Learn To Ski camp for individuals with disabilities. In 2001, the U.S.-based clinic team assisted in the development of a ski instructor certification program through Spain’s professional ski association.
This program, Foundation Deporte y Desafio, is now a year-round operation offering a wide variety of sports opportunities for adults and children with disabilities.
Andrea Brunello, who hails from Italy, worked hard to pursue her career in adaptive sports skills development and program management by gaining knowledge through hands-on training. She found the perfect learning opportunity when she joined the National Ability Center in Utah where she learned various adaptive sports skills, methods, and techniques among other valuable lessons.
With the knowledge and skills she acquired, Brunello made the commendable decision to establish her own sports organization named Sportabili in Predazzo, Italy. Her organization has become widely recognized for providing year-round opportunities to people in different regions of Italy to engage in sports despite any physical or mental limitations they may have.