Editor’s Note: FamilyConnect aims to help parents recognize the importance of recreational activities for children and teens with visual impairments as well as identify agencies and associations who provide recreational instruction and opportunities for blind and visually impaired children and adults. Families, meet the United States Association of Blind Athletes (USABA)!
Empowered by Sports
By Courtney Patterson of the United States Association of Blind Athletes
Approximately 70 percent of American youth who are blind or visually impaired do not participate in even a limited physical education curriculum due to barriers in education and misconceptions surrounding the abilities of children with visual impairments. U.S. Association of Blind Athletes (USABA) and our widespread network of Sports Club Partners across the nation are working to change this by educating the public and offering life-changing opportunities in sports, recreation, and physical activity across the U.S.
USABA is constantly educating the public on the importance of physical activity and sports in the blindness community. We offer resources like Mobile Coach, a free online coaching platform with videos and instruction in multiple sports. We also conduct in-person demonstrations of adaptive sports that can be included in physical education curriculums in any school, like guide running and goalball—a team sport specifically designed for blind and visually impaired athletes. We also highlight the accomplishments of athletes and programs in their local communities to further the awareness of adaptive sport and opportunities for those in blindness communities at the local level.
We believe sports empower by giving individuals opportunities to learn important life skills like teamwork, perseverance, and commitment. Sports also enhance an individual’s confidence and cultivate community.
Often youth who are blind or visually impaired do not participate in organized sports or physical education activities because of fear which often stems from limited knowledge about adaptations available. USABA and our numerous Sports Club Partners break down the barrier of fear and inform communities by hosting multi-sport festivals where youth and adults can try different sports in a non-competitive environment. We also host development camps in specific sports like rowing, cycling, goalball, and skiing once individuals determine which sports they enjoy most and want to develop their skills. USABA’s network of Sports Club Partners enables us to reach youth across the U.S. at the local level. For a full list of USABA Sports Clubs and contact information, please visit our website.
Each time we introduce someone to sports, whether it is through a USABA program or program at a USABA Sports Club, we know we’re opening the door to empowerment, independence, and community. Join us and play sports in your community!