March is Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month, so we are shining the spotlight on ways that Wisconsinites can enjoy adaptive activities throughout the year and with families of any size. Developmental Disabilities is defined by the CDC as, “a group of conditions due to an impairment in physical, learning, language, or behavior areas. These conditions begin during the developmental period, may impact day-to-day functioning, and usually last throughout a person's lifetime.”
We sat down with special education teacher and Miss Wisconsin 2020 Alyssa Bohm to discuss some great adaptive activities all families can participate in, because as she explains, “any activity can become adaptive.”
A beautiful, sunny day on the lake is perfect for any Wisconsinite! But it’s also a great way for people of all abilities to swim and enjoy the water together. With so many lakes, rivers, and beaches to choose from, any day on the water, whether it be canoeing, swimming, adaptive paddling, or just relaxing down the river.
As a matter of fact, Bradford Beach in Milwaukee, was just named ‘America’s Most Accessible Beach’ thanks to the new pathways and wheelchair accessible ports in the summer of 2020. If you have a beach wheelchair, head on over for a full day of fun in the sand without worry.
Plus, if you’re looking for an actual class to take, check out your local YMCA to see if they offer adaptive aquatic lessons. In particular, the Marshfield YMCA, Madison Area YMCA, and Oshkosh YMCA offer great adaptive aquatics programs, just to name a few!
Competitive ball games are for everyone! Wheelchair basketball, bocce ball, baseball, and bowling are particularly popular among people with disabilities. In terms of Wheelchair Basketball, there are gyms all over the state for people to play and enjoy. Specifically, the Wisconsin Adaptive Sports Association is working to bring wheelchair sports to people with all sorts of disabilities, including disabled children, adults, and veterans. You don't have to have any experience in sports to play! Not a person with disabilities, but want to join in on the fun? The Ability Center in Milwaukee offers wheelchair basketball options for everyone! This is a great way to play with the person with disabilities in your life and get a feel for how they play.
For baseball, there are several Miracle Leagues throughout Wisconsin, on a mission to bring baseball to everyone! Specifically, there are leagues in the Fox Valley, Green Bay, Dane County, and Milwaukee.
For bocce ball lovers, there are courts in Wauwatosa, Madison, and Lake Geneva for people of all ability levels to enjoy!
Something that doesn’t need a special facility at all? Bowling! People of all abilities, friendship levels, and families of all sizes can enjoy a night of bowling! Check out your local bowling alley and make a family night whenever you’re looking to shake up your routine.
All of your favorite Wisconsin outdoor activities, like fishing, hiking, & hunting are all great options for adaptive activities. For example, Fishing Has No Boundaries is a national organization with chapters set up all over Wisconsin to provide recreational fishing opportunities for anglers with disabilities regardless of their age, race, gender, or disability.
Other organizations, like Challenge The Outdoors in Green Bay, are working toward providing a bounty of outdoor sporting opportunities for people with disabilities, like fishing, archery, pheasant hunting, and deer hunting.
Other outdoor sports like golf or disc golf are great adaptive sports that can be enjoyed anytime, anywhere! Of course, if competitive sports are more your style, check out the games available through Special Olympics of Wisconsin!
Miss Wisconsin 2020 Alyssa Bohm ends on this inspiring note, “we shouldn’t be creating separate playgrounds, but making all playgrounds more adaptive so that all children can play together and allowing people who have never needed to use adaptive equipment before to close the gaps on the perception of having a disability and creating true inclusion.”
Alyssa Bohm: Miss Wisconsin 2019 & 2020; special education teacher in Racine, WI and the youngest person to be elected to the Board of Directors of Special Olympics of Wisconsin
Susan Fochs: Marketing Coordinator for Discover Mediaworks. A self-proclaimed non-profit aficionado, coffee connoisseur, marketing nerd, and lover of all things Wisconsin.