We’re a little late to the party, but wanted to share the news from the American Association of Adapted Sports Programs about exciting new guidelines on adapted sports programs in schools that will make it easier for disabled children to get involved in these life changing programs.
The new guidance was issued by the US Dept of Education’s Office of Civil Rights (OCR). The guidelines clarify schools’ responsibilities under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act to provide athletic opportunities for students with disabilities. Below are excerpts of their info on the new guidelines, for the complete article, click here.
“Each person and group who has worked within this sports movement can take heart that their work has not gone unnoticed and that with this new guidance we can further advance our vital work of making sure all kids who want to take part in school sports will have an opportunity to do so,” said Beverly Vaughn, AAASP Cofounder and Executive Director.
The guidance followed a 2010 study from the Government Accountability Office. GAO found that students with disabilities receive fewer opportunities for physical activity and sports participation than students without disabilities. The GAO called on the Department of Education to provide resources to assist states and schools in addressing this disparity of services and also asked that clarification of schools’ responsibilities be provided regarding athletic opportunities for students under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act.
The Inclusive Fitness Coalition, comprised of over 200 groups around the nation, including AAASP, has called OCR’s guidance a landmark moment in opening the doors to students with disabilities in much the same way as Title IX has done for women. “It sends a loud message to educational institutions that students with disabilities must be provided opportunities for physical activity and sports equal to those afforded to students without disabilities,” according to AAASP Board member, Terri Lakowski, CEO of Active Policy Solutions in Washington, DC and former policy director for the Women’s Sports Foundation. Lakowski has championed efforts for equal physical activity and sports opportunities for women, girls and students with disabilities for over ten years.
Researchers with Healthy People 2011 indicated that since activity levels in adulthood are usually lower than during childhood, sport and physical activity patterns established during childhood form the foundation for lifelong physical activity and subsequent health and contribute to an overall quality of life.
Studies considered by OCR in issuing their guidance also establish that children with physical disabilities have greater activity barriers. They are often not encouraged to lead active lives and in fact this failure tends to lead to sedentary lives with greater health problems that may be avoidable.
Commenting on OCR’s announcement, Tommie Storms, AAASP’s Cofounder and Director of Operations noted that, “From its founding nearly 16 years ago, when our model was integrated into 10 school districts in less than three months time. AAASP has utilized every tool at its disposal to develop and implement policy, systems, adapted rules and training opportunities that have led to lasting sustainability and reasonable costs.”
Vaughn added, “We would also be remise not to acknowledge those who comprise our member schools and high school associations and nearly two decades of input, review and recognition for our collective efforts by many of the nations’ best minds in this area of sport and physical development. This news could not come at a better time for these administrators, teachers, coaches and coordinators who’ve dedicated themselves to the success of these students.”
Parents whose children take part in these programs have reported that it has been nothing short of a life changing experience for their child.
The other top benefits identified by parents whose children participate include:
- The opportunity to play sports that the kids would otherwise never have
- Noted reductions over previous years in secondary health complications resulting from sedentary habits.
- The ability to work hard, participate in a group, set goals, & excel in sports
- Increased motivation to get good grades, improvement in academics
- Active engagement and friendship with other students, mentors, & coaches
Congrats to everyone who was involved in this effort. We’re thrilled to see growing support for the adapted athletes of tomorrow. We’ve been absolutely inspired by the impact of sports on children and adults after a spinal cord injury, and they’re not alone.
To view the complete guidelines, click here: Read Guidelines