Photo of Laurie LoRe-GussakExecutive Director's Report

We see every day that people with disabilities are under-estimated by their teachers, employers, healthcare professionals, peers, and worst of all themselves.  According to Promoting the Rights of Children with Disabilities, UNICEF Innocenti Digest No. 13, October 2007,

“Children with disabilities and their families constantly experience barriers to the enjoyment of their basic human rights and to their inclusion in society. Their abilities are overlooked, their capacities are underestimated and their needs are given low priority. Yet, the barriers they face are more frequently as a result of the environment in which they live than as a result of their impairment.”

 People make judgments based on pre-conceived ideas about people’s appearance or behavior.  Children and adults with a disability struggle not to internalize the judgments about their abilities; it is critical that people with a disability don’t let the ignorance about what people with disabilities CAN do affect their own confidence in their abilities.  When we ask people what barriers they face to participate in recreation and active leisure, very often the response is self-motivation.

 We all have to find our own inner strength and find what motivates us to be an active member of our society.  We each have different challenges and may need to do things a little differently, but each of us has an inner strength that can lead us to overcome those challenges.

 Mahatma Gandhi said, “Strength does not come from physical capacity. It comes from an indomitable will.”  I have been lucky in my life, especially my involvement with Florida Disabled Outdoors Association, to have met amazing people that have an indomitable will and they inspire me.  My hat goes off to the rock climbers, water-skiers, kayakers, anglers and all the active people with a disability.  Active Leisure for Life!

Photo of David Jones, FDOA PresidentPresident's Report - Get Fit & Get Well

We are more likely to have high blood pressure, diabetes, chronic conditions, preventable secondary conditions, more emergency room visits, more hospital readmissions, early deaths, and be overweight or obese.  We also engage in exercise and other healthy behaviors less frequently.  Who are we?  We are us, people with disabilities.  It is me, you, our spouses, children, parents, friends, neighbors, employers, class mates.  We are everywhere, in every demographic group.  The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services unveiled Healthy People 2020 a 10 year plan to improve the nation’s health. 

 The goals are to:  

          • Attain high quality longer lives, free of preventable disease, disability, injury, and premature death.
          • Achieve health equity, eliminate disparities and improve the health for all.  
          • Promote quality of life, healthy development, and healthy behaviors across all life stages

People with disabilities can and must be encouraged through information and activity to become involved in preventing and managing secondary conditions and improving overall health. The current medical healthcare system has not been effective in understanding health for persons with disabilities.  Everyone, including people with disabilities, needs opportunities to participate in daily activities that contribute to growth, development, healing, and productivity. The FDOA mission and the commitment of all of our programs are to advocate, educate, and motivate people of all ages and abilities to participate in health and wellness opportunities.  The goals of the  Healthy People 2020initiative are really the same goals that we have had since our founding in 1990. We have worked to use recreation and active leisure as the tools that we use to provide physical activity. That is one of the top two controllable elements for good health, those being nutrition and physical activity. Both are equally important and necessary components to achieve those goals.

We are excited to be collaborating with Goodwill of the Big Bend and other partners to develop and provide a new accessible, affordable, and inclusive community fitness and wellness program that will focus on serving people with disabilities and disadvantages.  Fitness, exercise, and wellness activities can, and should be an enjoyable and important component to of our personal “Active Leisure for Life” goals.

Hobie Tandem BoatRecreation Assistive Technology - Hobie Tandem Adventure Island

Try the 18' Hobie Tandem Adventure Island, a very versatile tandem kayak and sailing trimaran. This two seat, sit on top (SOT) kayak, sets up in minutes and can be brought right up to the beach for loading passengers. With one of the outside amas (floats) folded inward, access to the forward seat is very simple. Once underway, this Hobie can be steered with a small knob on the side of each seat. It is very simple to shorten sail in high winds and to raise or lower the steering rudder from either seat. When not sailing, the Hobie Adventure Island becomes a regular kayak with amas removed, or a very stable kayak with amas in place.

Not only can it be paddled as a kayak, it also has the ability to be peddled by using the peddle drive system, allowing your legs to do the work. The Hobie Adventure Island has endless possibilities when it comes to using either upper or lower body strength, or a combination of the two making sailing possible to people of all abilities. Simplicity, versatility, adaptability, and a whole lot of fun.  

Come to SportsAbility Ocala on Saturday, October 5, 2014 from 10:00 am to 3:00 pm at Carney Island Recreation & Conservation Area, Ocklawaha to give the Mirage Tandem Island a test drive in person. More information can be found at See for yourself all the benefits this water craft has to offer!

"I've sailed my entire life and have taught sailing for over thirty years. I have to say that sailing at SportsAbility ranked right at the top for those I've sailed with over the years. To see the fear go to grins was really amazing. Feeling the sense of speed and wind for someone without sight was a new experience for both of us. Most had never sailed and were taking it in for the first time in a sensory way that they eagerly shared. They were really sharing sailing with me, not the other way around."        David Damon, FDOA volunteer, Sailboat Enthusiast

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