Winter is here! And so are adapted and inclusive winter sports.

Although this winter is only a few weeks old, many people have already started participating in winter sports. There are many organizations throughout the US that provide the expertize you and your family will need to participate in adapted and inclusive winter sports, such as downhill skiing, kicksledding, adaptive ice skating, or snowshoeing. Some organizations will also provide the adapted sleds, chairs, helmets, and other equipment needed to participate. Here are a few examples of adapted and inclusive winter sports:

  • Adaptive skiing and adaptive snowboarding utilize specialized equipment and/or training so that people with disabilities can experience the benefits of skiing and snowboarding. These benefits include assistance in developing balance, fitness, confidence, motivation, and social skills. Organizations like Adaptive Adventures help people with disabilities learn how to ski and snowboard.
  • The Scandinavian Kicksled is not well known in the US; however, in Scandinavia, it is a practical form of transportation, is used as recreational fun, and is a competitive sport! Kicksleds can be used in downhill sledding, in cross-country skiing, trekking through snow covered paths, and even as a convenient device for ice fishermen with disabilities! Check out Everyone Outdoors’ blog post on the Scandinavian Kicksled and where to purchase a kicksled of your own.
  • Don’t forget to check out the Special Olympics’ World Winter Games 2017 in Austria! You can get ideas of all the winter adapted sports that are out there. Sports included in the Winter Games include figure skating, speed skating, floor hockey, floorball, snowshoeing, alpine skiing, Nordic skiing, snowboarding, and stick shooting.

Can’t stand the cold? There are plenty of indoor adapted and inclusive winter sports that you and your family can participate in!

  • Adaptive ice skating utilizes assistive technology such as adapted ice skates, skate walkers, and gait trainers to assist people with disabilities to ice skate. Programs, such as Dorothy Hamill’s adaptive ice skating program: I-Skate, help children with physical disabilities in improving their health and independence, but also provide peer to peer social interaction.
  • Therapeutic horseback riding or hippotherapy is a highly enjoyable sport that creates a great bond between rider and horse! It also helps with balance, fitness, social skills, and responsibility. Check out PATH International to find a hippotherapy center near you.
  • Your local YMCA may have adaptive and inclusive sports opportunities for you and your family. They also may participate in the SOAR program. To find your local YMCA go to ymca.net.

As you plan your winter sporting activities, check out our blog post on the National Sports Center for the Disabled. So, get out there and enjoy winter! And don’t forget to share with us your favorite adaptive and inclusive winter sports.

About mpgarcia

I'm the Bilingual Information/Media Specialist at NARIC.
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