FORT CAVAZOS, Texas — The Fort Cavazos Child & Youth Services program held its annual Adaptive Sports event June 30 at the Bronco Youth Center here.
Adaptive sports are recreational or competitive sports adapted or modified to accommodate the needs of persons with disabilities.
Bernice Strickling, training specialist for CYS, said the motivation behind the event is to give children an opportunity to engage and understand how some activities must be adapted or modified.
Strickling added that it’s also a great opportunity to nurture kindness in children.
“It gives them an opportunity to understand how they can be more compassionate and show empathy,” she said.
Children pre-school age through 5th grade rotated through a variety of stations, both indoors and outdoors, featuring different sports activities with special modifications to simulate how a person with a disability may perform.
The blind folded goal ball station simulated what a visually impaired athlete may experience playing a game like soccer. Players were blind folded and then instructed to kick or throw an audible ball, a ball that makes noise, into the opposite team’s goal.
Seated volleyball simulated what it’s like to play the game in a wheelchair or without the use of one’s legs. With a net dividing each team, players were required to serve and volley the ball over the net in a seated position.
Younger and older children alike received enjoyment out of using scooters to simulate wheelchair basketball. Players found it wasn’t as easy as they anticipated to navigate the scooter to the goal and shoot, but they had a blast trying.
The adapted golf station allowed players to play a modified game of golf and the guided walking station simulated the experience of leading someone who is visually impaired.
Staff Sgt. Ashly Pierre, 3rd Security Force Assistance Brigade, was one of the few parents on hand for the activities. She said the event highlighted diversity and taught the children perseverance.
“Everybody’s different, everybody has a different struggle that they go through. But despite those struggles, those kids are still getting out there, trying to enjoy the outdoors, enjoy sports and get involved,” she said. “It just doesn’t matter how you’re made up, just as long as you’re trying and enjoying yourself.”
Lonzo Cobaris, CYS maintenance, said the event offers participants and spectators a different aspect on sports and life.
“A lot of excuses that we make, you don’t make them as much anymore,” he said.
Vickie Jackson, CYS Youth Sports director, said that situation awareness is important, and the program wants to be inclusive of everyone. She said she wants every student to be confident in their abilities, whether they have a disability or not.
“I want them to know that you can do anything that you put your mind to,” she said. “It may not be the way someone else does it, but there’s a way to make it work for you to be able to do it also.”