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. ASSC will encompass all people regardless of differences in race, color, national origin, sex, age, religion, geographic origin, socioeconomic status, disability, sexual orientation or gender identity.

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Ability International

South Korea

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 conducted a sports exchange initiative for youth with disabilities from Chiang Mai and Nong Khai, Thailand. The goal of the Project, Developing Potential and Transforming Perceptions (DPTP), was to establish sustainable sports programs that target youth with physical and developmental disabilities in Thailand that will be continued and replicated beyond the term of the grant.The two-way US-Thailand exchange utilized a U.S. based multi-sports skills training team consisting of six professional trainers and six assistant trainers/interns who traveled to Chiang Mai and Nong Khai, Thailand, to conduct two six-day training programs for 150 coaches and 200 youth with disabilities in the adaptive sports of wheelchair basketball, aquatics, table tennis, field games, sitting volleyball and archery. Project DPTP provided the necessary equipment needed for sports participation, including specially adapted equipment.In summer of 2015, a select group of teachers, athletes, and government officials from Chiang Mai and Nong Khai came to the National Ability Center for a wide array of additional sports training, meetings with other disability service providers, and opportunities to experience the diverse culture and wondrous beauty of Utah and Wyoming.


In 2013, National Ability Center partnered with the Department of State’s SportsUnited program to create Project ECEA –an International Sports Initiative, Empowering Communities and Expanding Awareness: An International Sports Project for Individuals with Disabilities.The project established sustainable sports programs targeting youth with physical and developmental disabilities in Cancun, Merida and Chetumal, Mexico.  Over the course of 18 months, 250 coaches and nearly 300 youth with disabilities participated in trainings for a range of sports.That August, a group of ten Mexican coaches attended an 18-day adaptive sports training at the National Ability Center in Park City, Utah. Participants experienced the National Ability Center’s programs in action, received specific sports training and learned “best practices” of program design and implementation. The group also sampled the National Ability Center’s programs including ropes course/team building, archery, wheelchair basketball, water-skiing, canoeing, wheelchair tennis, horseback riding and hand-cycling.


in 2011, National Ability Center provided disabled sports training for a group of ten coaches and school officials from Yogyakarta, Indonesia. The group was part of Project YEP, an ECA grant through Wheels for Humanity. Exchange participants received training in specific sports skills and “best practices” within a variety of adaptive sports, as well as experienced the National Ability Center’s programs in action.


SportUnited 2008-2009. Through this project, National Ability Center provided adaptive sport skills training to 55 coaches and more than 60 youth with disabilities in Chiang Mai and Khon Kaen, Thailand from 2007-2008. Project ISP provided the necessary equipment required for sports participation, and 170 wheelchairs through a partnership with UCP Wheels for Humanity.


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, a graduate student from Italy trained in adaptive sports skills development and program management through hands-on instruction at the National Ability Center in Utah.  Brunello went on to establish Sportabili in Predazzo, Italy, which has grown to provide year-round sports opportunities in regions throughout the country.

About Sports United

Sports United, the United States Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs’ division devoted to sports diplomacy, taps into sports diplomacy’s ability to increase dialogue and cultural understanding between people around the world.

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