Adaptive sports training aims to impact wounded warriors, community members
November 15, 2011
KAISERSLAUTERN, Germany (Nov. 15, 2011) -- Instructors from the United States Olympic Committee's Paralympic Military Program led an adaptive sports clinic at the Kleber Gym and Fitness Center in Kaiserslautern, Germany Nov. 7-10, for Warrior Transition Battalion-Europe Soldiers, cadre, and Army Morale Welfare and Recreation staff.
The training clinic, which included wheelchair basketball, archery, seated volleyball and several strength and conditioning drills, was presented in a train-the-trainer design. This method not only introduced Soldiers and leaders to adaptive sports techniques, it also taught them how to develop adaptive sports and fitness programs that can be incorporated into WTUs throughout Europe.
This lines up with the Army Warrior Transition Command's broader goal of promoting active lifestyles within the wounded warrior community, according to Command Sgt. Maj. Michael Gragg, the command sergeant major of WTB-E.
"In the process of promoting active lifestyles, we're trying to foster the spirit of competition within our warriors here in the WTB-Europe," said Gragg. "We don't want to let that competitive fire die, because they feel that they're limited by certain activities. Now we'll provide them activities that they can do within their limits and still stoke that fire."
Civilians from several MWR facilities throughout Europe also participated in the training. Having them on hand served several purposes, according to Lt. Col. Michael Richardson, the WTB-E commander.
The MWR representatives are key resources as they manage and operate the facilities that will enable future adaptive sports programs to be successful. By having them participate, they saw first-hand the benefits of establishing these types of activities in their respective locations, which could benefit wounded warriors, as well as members of the U.S. Army Europe community, Richardson said.
"There are more folks out there in our communities with physical challenges -- family members, retirees, contractors. By showcasing what we can do with adaptive reconditioning sports, they can now incorporate things back into their programs for other members of the community as well our warriors," Richardson said.
Through partnerships with warrior transition units, the USOC Paralympic Military Program provides rehabilitation support and mentoring to service members who have suffered injuries from traumatic brain injury and spinal cord injury to amputation and post-traumatic stress, according to the US Paralympic website.
For more information on the US Paralympic Team, visit usparalympics.org.