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Today's Family Magazine

Local organization provides adaptive sports opportunities for children with physical disabilities

A chance to play.  Most families won’t think twice about the phrase.  Youth sports is a multi-billion dollar industry, thus most children are provided with ample opportunities to play.   Of course, there are still barriers to entry, but what if you’re child had no access to sports at all?  Without adaptive sports, that would be the reality for children who have physical disabilities that prevent them from participating in able-bodied sports.  

Adaptive Sports Ohio provides those adaptive sport opportunities for children and adults with physical disabilities through community-based and interscholastic sports programs.

Headquartered in Wooster, Ohio, Adaptive Sports Ohio offers programming for athletes in Wayne, Mahoning, Stark, Lucas, and Cuyahoga counties.  The newly opened Cleveland office offers an extensive list of programs for veterans, adults, and youth with disabilities that includes wheelchair basketball, power wheelchair soccer, sled hockey, track & field, hand cycling, wheelchair tennis, wheelchair softball, and more.  Athletes have the option to play recreationally or compete on one of the many competitive travel teams offered.  

Inclusion in school athletics is important for students with disabilities, thus Adaptive Sports Ohio has launched school-based wheelchair basketball programs in six Ohio school districts with plans to scale the program, adding new programs each year.  ASO also assists schools with integrating wheelchair track athletes into their high school and middle school track programs by providing adaptive track training for athletes and coaches across the state and by providing racing chairs for students.  The goal is to soon bring these interscholastic programs to schools in Cuyahoga County.

Maintaining an active lifestyle is important for the health and well-being of anyone, but it’s especially critical for individuals with disabilities.  Individuals living with disabilities are more likely to be inactive, socially isolated, and have a greater risk of poor health than their able-bodied peers.  

Sports play an important role in the academic success of children.  According to the National Federation of High Schools, studies have proven that students who participate in high school athletic programs have higher grade-point averages than those who do not participate.  Yet, our most academically vulnerable population, students with disabilities, have a 68% Ohio graduation rate and don’t have access to the academic benefit that school sports provide.  Adaptive Sports Ohio is working to change that by getting kids with physical disabilities off the sideline and into the game, providing them a path for a more active and healthy life.

If you have a child with a physical disability, or know someone that would benefit from adaptive sports, you can learn more about getting involved by contacting Lizzie Goldsmith, program manager for Cuyahoga County, at [email protected] or call (216) 410-6627.  You can also find them on Facebook @AdaptiveSportsOhio, or visit for more information.