Sports change a person. Whether the activity includes a new workout routine embarked upon as part of a new year’s resolution or the activity is part of an intense training program for a professional athlete or even recess for a young student, the mental and physical benefits of physical activity are well documented. For a person with a developmental disability, participation in a competitive sport has a profound and exponential impact. That is because the positive changes are experienced by the athlete with a disability as well as his/her fellow competitors and all spectators. Inclusion raises awareness about the abilities of all people and it builds relationships that foster diversity in our communities.
For the past two years, Athletes in Tandem have competed in Naples-based triathlons with teammates from United Cerebral Palsy of Southwest Florida. Athletes in Tandem prepared teammates with disabilities from our Cape Coral operations in the use of adaptive equipment to race. For some, the race marked their first experience “taking risks” on their own (whether it be racing at a fast pace; swimming in deep waters, “battling” in a bike race or even climbing a mountain out in Colorado!)
The gradual acquisition of skills and accomplishments from the team races build the self-confidence needed to take on other life challenges… just look on the faces of our local athletes. Sports are an essential gateway to educating others about the contributions of people of all abilities. Thank you to Team Tandem for supporting community inclusion!!