Adaptive sports teach people with disabilities to be para-athletes

Adaptive sports teach people with disabilities to be para-athletes

Adaptive sports teach people with disabilities to be para-athletes

Being part of the team is part of every day life for most kids, but for those with disabilities, joining the team and being known as an athlete means more than winning the race.

While most kids can just join the school track team, athletes with disabilities rely on meets like the Paralympic-sanctioned Shoe City Open in Los Angeles. 

“Kids with disabilities or adults with disabilities really don’t have very many of those opportunities,” Teresa Skinner said.

Skinner is the executive director of Parasport Spokane, a non-profit that works to get the physically disabled involved with adaptive sports like track and field.

Meets like the Shoe City Open allow young athletes to race alongside Paralympians like 19-year-old Austin Pruitt.

“On a personal level, it was you know four years before I told myself I wanted to be there I didn’t want to just get close to being there, I wanted to be there,” Pruitt said.

Pruitt, a Central Valley grad, was a member of Team USA at the 2012 Paralympic Games in London. Pruitt says adaptive sports gave him the chance to be an athlete.

“It made it so I could play. Growing up with cerebral palsy you can’t do a lot of things you can’t run with the other kids as much as you want to when you’re young, this just kind of evened the playing field,” he said.

By sharing a heat with Paralympians, younger athletes are able to look past their disability and see what is possible. 

“It’s really about getting kids involved and adults and getting them really integrated back into their communities and their schools and taking a look at the whole person. And being really focused on the fact that there isn’t really anything that kids and adults with disabilities can’t do and sometimes they just need a group of people and to be surrounded by a group of people who really truly believe that,” Skinner said.

The adaptive sport community is teaching people with disabilities that they can be more than just the kid in the wheelchair. They may not all become Paralympians, like their role models, but they’ve all become athletes.

“I can do so much more than just sitting around the house doing nothing playing video games I can get out there, stay active,” Spencer Kimbro said.