Recreation is more than just having fun! Recreation promotes physical and emotional wellness, builds self-esteem, develops motor and cognitive skills, provides an outlet for excess energy, and can be a way to refresh and rejuvenate oneself through activity. This section will focus on ways to find and enjoy recreational activities. Population: Any age or ability
When asked, most people would say that what is most important in their life is their relationships: family, friends, schoolmates, co-workers, etc. Finding ways to develop and sustain these relationships takes time, effort and a bit of creativity. Supporting a person with disabilities to enable them to expand their present relationships and develop new ones should be the focus of helping them achieve the best possible life.
Being a part of the community in which we live is important to each of us. We all want to feel valued and included. Discovering what a person with disabilities values and how they might want to participate in their community can help us understand what is meaningful in their life. A great way to build relationships and to become a part of a community is through recreation! Recreation provides a variety of opportunities to promote physical and emotional wellness, build self-esteem, and develop friendships.
Where to Start
The first place to start developing recreational activities may be at home. Invite people over to enjoy 'playing' with your family member. Provide a swing set or trampoline in the backyard or a basketball hoop in the driveway to attract others to come and get to know, care for and love your family member. Invite friends over for movies and pizza, or to put on makeup and fingernail polish, or to play video games ? anything that will bring people into your home and into the life of your family member.
When the person wants to get out into the community, watch for community newspapers or newsletters that advertise classes for hobbies such as arts and crafts, woodworking, ceramics, martial arts, yoga, etc. Check out craft stores, community schools or churches. Find a friend or neighbor that may want to take the class with your family member. Locate clubs or church groups to participate in. Scouting organizations and 4-H clubs are all over the state and offer support to include children with disabilities. Don't be afraid that your family member may not fit in. Take a back seat and watch how others come forward to assist. It may surprise you to see how people are naturally attracted to helping!
Nearly every city has some funding for adaptive recreation. It may not be readily offered, but an informed parent/guardian can start the process for getting some kind of recreation for people with disabilities in your city! Make use of the public recreation facilities in your city or county such as swimming pools. Nearly everyone likes to play in the water and using adaptive swimming equipment, such as swim belts, life vests, head safety floats, floating mats, etc. can ensure a safe and enjoyable activity. For more serious water lovers, enroll in swimming classes!
Exercise gyms offer opportunities to get exercise and to meet new people. Good range of motion is important for everyone, and simple exercise machines like stationery bicycles and treadmills at local gyms can make exercising fun while burning calories and building endurance.
There are a number of cycles (such as adapted tricycles) that have been designed so that children with disabilities can enjoy the same types of recreation as other children. Some cycles come equipped with remote controls or joysticks that allow the child to ride up and down sidewalks in safety.
Another great resource in Utah are the many counties that have accessible fishing holes. What a great way to relax and meet friends! Our parks and recreation departments have worked to find ways to make parks more accessible and interesting to people with disabilities. People with disabilities can obtain a Golden Eagle Passport that provides free or discounted entrance to state parks. The Bureau of Land Management offers free park passes and discounts for camping fees. The Bureau of Wildlife and Natural Resources offers free or discounted fishing licenses.
Explore new types of recreation
Don't be afraid to explore all types of recreational activities to discover what your family member may be interested in. We live in a wonderful world of technology and awareness! There are specialized golf putters, bowling ramps, and adaptive bows and arrows. Talk to therapists and adaptive recreation specialists to find out what is available.
Recreational opportunities are very important part of life for people with and without disabilities. Over the years, many, many organizations have worked to develop programs that meet the needs for children and adults with developmental disabilities. Below are some of them: