President's Message: Healthcare or Care of Our Health

David C. Jones

Photo of David C. Jones, FDOA PresidentWe have many problems with our healthcare system. Costs are up and rising, our health status is down and falling, and the value of what we get for what we pay is poor.  We have way too narrowed a focus on treating the conditions relating to specific diseases and ailing body parts. We use pills and Band-Aids to relieve the symptoms and do not address fixing the causes. Traditional healthcare contributes only about 10% to our health. Genetics is a larger factor at 30%. The remaining 60% and the majority factors that contribute to our health are the ones we can control and change, behaviors, environment and social circumstances. These are things that we can make changes to, and get results.

We need to recognize, and give a high priority to efforts that can change behaviors that can lead to long term improvements in our population health. This must be done in multiple sectors from home, to schools, to transportation, to our local parks and recreation facilities and programs. Federal, state and local governments and policy makers must work together to influence the delivery of quality physical activity experiences. Programs should include the teaching of a variety skills and increasing the number of activities that youth will be able to engage throughout life. The focus should be on getting children and adults to be physically active for a lifetime. The desire is to engage people in meaningful, multidimensional activity opportunities in all sectors of life. This is what the FDOA is all about. We know that community based non-government organizations like us, can play a very important role in this cross sector approach by collaboration and forming partnerships that create and provide the needed expertise and experience along with their financial support to provide opportunities and  motivate people to participate.

This is why we are really in the health care arena and not “just” a recreation organization. We advocate for physical activity and use recreation as our main tool to change behaviors that lead to better health. We know that providing adaptive and inclusive sports is a great way of engaging more children and adults to be more physically active.  However, just providing a place and time does not get the participation of many of the people who would benefit most from these programs. Motivating people to change their behavior and become involved is the biggest challenge that we face and always will be. Education takes time and much effort in advocacy and outreach. We must create a welcoming, nonthreatening and safe environment. The key is making the program a social event that is enjoyable for the participants, families and the providers. Most importantly it must be FUN for all involved. That is what we have started here in Tallahassee with our very successful FDOA Miracle Sports program.  
We will continue our efforts to collaborate with the other sectors for partnerships that can help us to    sustain and to grow the programs that lead to healthier, happier and more productive citizens.   “Active Leisure for Life”!!

Executive Director's Message: Pushing Through the Fear

Laurie LoRe-Gussak, MBA, IOM, CAE

Photo of Laurie LoRe-GussakI’m a mama; I am Italian and my child has ADHD and Sensory Processing Disorder, so I worry. It is what I do. I want him to be happy like every parent. According to the Center for Disease Control, adults with disabilities are three (3) times more likely to have heart disease, stroke, diabetes, or cancer than adults without disabilities! I don’t want my child to experience the secondary effects of not being active. Instead, I want him to enjoy the numerous physical, mental, developmental and social benefits of physical activity.

Even before I had a child, I read and discussed numerous studies that show the benefits of physical activity – especially for people with disabilities. I spoke at conferences on this. Now, I see the benefits for my son.

Sometimes, like today, I push my son to do something that scares him (and me!) He is going to Florida State University Circus Camp. It is held in a giant circus tent. There are cool trapeze wires and everything you would imagine a circus to have. It looks like fun, but seriously daunting. I sat in the audience this morning until I felt like he looked ready for me to leave (or maybe until I was ready.)

The point of this is that sometimes doing what is good for us is scary BUT, when we push through that fear we are powerful. We feel like we can take on the world. Every time we do something that is brave, we feel that inner hero inside ourselves. It feels great!

 At the end of the first day of Circus Camp, my son said, "Mom, that was AWESOME! Can I go there all summer?" Circus Camp might not be for you, but let's find what inspires each of us to be active. Let’s prove that statistic wrong. Let’s not be the sedentary person. Let’s be the brave one – the one that feels empowered. We are ABLE to do it!!

To find the physical activity that inspires you, check out our Recreation Resource Referral Network at:

Golf for People of ALL Abilities including People with a Brain or Spinal Cord Injury

Photo of Blake MichaelsBlake Michaels, Recreation Management Intern

The time has come in Florida for bathing suits and tank tops! The Florida Disabled Outdoors Association is calling all folks to get outside and play. There are a variety of activities and sports that are available for those with disabilities. Recreational sport is on the rise throughout the country and the FDOA is here to inform you on what’s new and exciting. A great sport to consider this vacation is golf. Playing golf is a great way to get out into the fresh air and enjoy time with friends and family. Adaptive Golf Clinics are now available for those dealing with illnesses or injuries and want to learn how to play. New technology is making golf accessible for those with a brain injury, spinal cord injury or those with limited mobility. There is also adaptive equipment available to play this great sport. Golf provides a great opportunity to build friendships, grow and overcome individual challenges. It also teaches values such as honesty, judgment, and integrity.

Photo of a person with a disability playing golfThere are many people with disabilities who believe they cannot do physical activity or are afraid of what can happen if they try. Many non-profits such as the American Disabled Golf Association and the Adaptive Golf Academy are working to change the mindset. They work with people from all walks of life to teach them the game and how to adapt and overcome their personal challenges. Local clinics are available for people all over the state and your local community, and they are usually free!

The FDOA is open-minded to all activities and sports that are of interest. We promote inclusion and are working with local and statewide partners to bring new sports and outdoor activities to the community. The growing interest in golf and success it has shown proves its value in society not only in the United States, but also worldwide. An Innovative wheelchair/scooter called Phed Mobility is one product that can transform a traditional golf cart into a fully wheelchair accessible golf cart. There’s also the Kool Tee Golf Tool and Golf Claw which allows those who cannot bend over to pick there ball or club up, or fix divots in the grass. A really neat golf tool called the Grasping Cuff is a strap that allows those with limited hand strength, but good arm strength to swing and hit the ball with ease. These are only a few of the creative products on the market.

Golf is a sport for everyone, regardless of our differences or abilities. One can get involved in traditional golf, or other forms of golf such as putt-putt/ miniature golf. We must all work together to ensure that everyone can have a chance to play and enjoy our popular sporting activities. We will continue to seek out other sports and new equipment!

More information for People with a Spinal Cord Injury:

English / Spanish

More information for People with a Brain Injury:
English / Spanish

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