Mary Helen Sprecher 0000-00-00 00:00:00
Helping Seated Athletes Stand Tall WE’VE ALL HEARD THE ADAGE, “Experience is what you get when you didn’t get what you wanted.” I used to laugh about it. Then I sustained an injury that landed me in a wheelchair for four months. Anyone who has been hurt, and who has gone from walking on two feet to trying to manage life from a seated position can tell you how difficult it is. Even withADA firmly in your corner, the smallest things present the biggest hassles. Grocery shopping, something I used to take for granted, became a huge, embarrassing challenge each week. Not surprisingly, the hardest part for me was going from being an athlete to being sedentary. Telling myself it was temporary (and that I was darned lucky it was temporary) was comforting, but I still longed for the ability to get up and walk away, and leave behind all this valuable experience I was getting about the problems faced daily by those who used wheelchairs. But finally, one day, I was able to walk away from it. And when I returned to the activities I had loved, I realized how many athletes in wheelchairs there were around me. They played tennis and basketball, swam, raced, danced, cheered and did all kinds of things. They had been there all along, but I just hadn’t paid attention. When I started talking to them, I learned a lot. Some had been born with their challenges, but some had sustained traumatic injuries and had to re-learn the sports they loved, or else learn new ones. Frankly, I was awestruck by their abilities and determination, and pretty embarrassed I had ever complained about the difficulty of trying to get a jar of pickles off the grocery store shelf. Asmore andmore individuals withmobility limitations take advantage of the recreation options available to them, the need to keep to have open, accessible events will keep on growing. Making your event not just friendly but downright welcoming to athletes and spectators with mobility limitations can mean an athlete not only returns next time, but brings family and friends. This issue’s feature will provide some inside information from an industry expert who knows how to make that happen. This issue is filled with good information all around—ideas for great destinations in mountainous regions, lodging options, facts about facilities for golf, baseball and swimming and diving, how to work effectively with a sports commission or CVB and more. Oh, and don’t miss our features on two more essential topics: medical support and insurance for sporting events.You might not want to think about needing them (who does?) But take it from me: if you do wind up needing them, you’ll also get some valuable new experience—even though you didn’t want it in the first place. Sincerely, Mary Helen Sprecher Managing Editor MARY HELEN SPRECHERhas been a technical writer formore than 20 years with the American Sports Builders Association (ASBA), the national association of designers, builders and suppliers of materials for athletic facilities. She has worked in meeting and convention planning for non-profit associations, and also works as a staff writer for a Baltimore, Maryland newspaper. She is a graduate of the Institute for Organization Management, a professional development program of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and has taughtmeeting planning and eventmanagement courses in the continuing studies program at Goucher College, located in Towson, Maryland. Her freelance writing includes coverage of topics including fitness, health, sports medicine and special education.
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