Big Kahuna 2024 Recap

This blog post was written by Kasara Barto, Events and Communications Manager for SportsAbility Alliance 

North Florida Christian High School Baseball Team Triumphs in SportsAbility Alliance’s Big Kahuna Fundraiser

SportsAbility Alliance’s recent Big Kahuna Event witnessed an exhilarating display of teamwork, and competitive spirit as five teams battled it out for victory. Held at beautiful Maclay Gardens State Park, this event brought together supporters of SportsAbility Alliance for an unforgettable day of adventure.

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Spotlight on Florida Businesses for National Disability Employment Awareness Month

This blog post was written by Cameron Rolston, SportsAbility Alliance Social Media Intern.

Spotlight on Florida Businesses for National Disability Employment Awareness Month

In honor of National Disability Employment Awareness Month, I spent October learning more about Disability Employment Awareness throughout different areas of Florida. I had the chance to talk to two companies in Florida - Inspire of Central Florida and Future Pathways -  that assist people with disabilities learn job readiness skills, master important life skills, and help them get jobs.  

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National Disability Employment Awareness Month

This article was written by Madeline Mancini, Sports Managment Intern for SportsAbility Alliance.

The History of National Disability Employment Awareness Month

In 1945, congress enacted a law that declared that the first week in October was “National Employ the Physically Handicapped week.” The declaration was part of an organized effort to educate the public about issues surrounding disabilities and employment. By 1988, the word “physically” was removed to acknowledge the employment needs and contributions of individuals with all types of disabilities. During this time, congress also expanded the week to the entire month of October and changed the name to National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM). 

The NDEAM was established to shine a spotlight on the varied contributions of individuals with disabilities to the workforce and economy of the United States.

 





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National Disability Awareness Month

This article was written by Madeline Mancini, Sports Managment Intern for SportsAbility Alliance.

What is National Disability Awareness Month?

National Developmental Disability Awareness Month was founded on February 26, 1987 by President Ronald Reagan. He officially declared Proclamation 5613, making March National Disabilities Awareness Month. The proclamation called for individuals to provide understanding, encouragement and opportunities to help people with disabilities to lead productive and fulfilling lives. In March, we specifically take extra steps to raise awareness about the support and rights of people with disabilities. Since Reagan’s declaration, attitudes toward individuals with disabilities have shifted and programs have increasingly supported the independence of people with disabilities.

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Insight from a School Psychologist: An Interview with Caitlin Murphy

This blog article was written by SportsAbility Alliance Sports Management Intern, Sean Munroe.

I had the pleasure of interviewing Caitlin Murphy.  Murphy is a school psychologist for Thomas County Schools in Georgia.  The following are questions related to her role, the benefits of recreation for people with developmental disabilities, and how to interact with people with disabilities.

"The greatest thing I have learned by being a school psychologist is patience. You never know what children are going through or struggling with."

- Caitlin Murphy 

Can you describe your role as a school psychologist and the responsibilities associated with the position?
Murphy: As a school psychologist, I work with children of all ages. I assess their strengths and weaknesses, and provide the school team with relevant information to inform their educational planning. I make suggestions for additional support available at school, whether that is through general education support or support through a Section 504 plan or IEP. 


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A Comprehensive and In-Depth Understanding of Special Olympics

SportsAbility Alliance and all our events are for people of all abilities. Athletes can choose to be as competitive, or not, as they would like, and everyone is able to participate! However, for those athletes looking for something a little more competitive, Special Olympics may be a good option to consider. Special Olympics offers many different sports and does have requirements in order to participate. Here is some more information!

Special Olympics Opening Ceremonies“Special Olympics is important, as it empowers and provides inclusion for special needs athletes. I learned a great deal about patience and will power from Special Olympics athletes, that I may have never experienced if not for Special Olympics,” said Special Olympics Coach Gladys Liehr. 

What is the Special Olympics?

Special Olympics is an international program that provides individuals with intellectual disabilities that are eight years or older access to year-round sports training and athletic competition in more than 20 Olympic-type summer and winter sports. Inaugurated in 1968, the Special Olympics was officially recognized by the International Olympic Committee on February 15, 1988. International headquarters are in Washington, D.C.
By the early 21st century there were chapters in nearly 200 countries. More than one million athletes participate annually in some 20,000 meets and tournaments held worldwide, culminating in the international Special Olympics World Games every two years, alternating between winter and summer sports and each lasting for nine days.

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Importance of Physical Culture for Children

Children are introduced to physical culture from a very young age. From “Mommy & Me” infant movement classes, to youth recreational soccer leagues, to sibling rough-housing. Physical culture is key for healthy child growth. Children start to develop gross motor skills as early as four to five months old. Before kids learn to talk, they use physical gestures to communicate with others. They learn social cues and context first through body language and behavior. Children rely on bio-pedagogy teachings to understand how their body is an instrument for communication and activity. Even as children learn to communicate verbally, physical culture continues to guide how they interact with one another and the rest of society.

Child playing kickballSport is one method of teaching these crucial social skills. When part of a sports team, kids learn how to work together and rely on each other. Individually, they learn how to express themselves and their goals through the effort they apply to their physical activity.

Sport is one method of teaching these crucial social skills. When part of a sports team, kids learn how to work together and rely on each other. Individually, they learn how to express themselves and their goals through the effort they apply to their physical activity. Most importantly, children learn through sports that the physical cultural practices of society are contextually specific. Just as the skill set and etiquette required for golf are not the same as what is expected for football, different cultural settings require different physical behavior. The way children treat their peers in the classroom may not be how they treat their opponents on the soccer field. With physical culture as an aid, children can understand easier what behavior is appropriate in different social contexts.

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Physical Activity versus Exercise: How Much Do We Need?

We are often told that we need to exercise but are not told HOW to exercise. First off, let’s differentiate the difference between physical activity and exercise.  Physical activity is any bodily movement that occurs as a result of musculoskeletal contraction that ultimately increases energy expenditure.  This is a fancy way of saying that physical activity is an action that requires energy to perform. An exercise is a structured form of physical activity.  But let’s not get caught up in the jargon because both are one and the same and are important for our mental and physical health.  

Man in a wheelchair lifting a kettlebell weight above his headThe American Heart Association currently recommends that adults accumulate greater than or equal to 150 minutes of moderate physical activity or 75 minutes of vigorous activity per week while children should get at least 60 minutes per day of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity weekly.

So, what exactly is moderate vs. vigorous activity? While everyone has different abilities, here are some different ideas to get those recommended “moderate” minutes as classified by the American Council on Exercise that can be adapted to functionality: chores that I push off until the weekend (washing windows, washing my car, cleaning the garage, sweeping/vacuuming), general carpentry, walking 3-5 mph,  mowing the lawn, slow room ball dancing with that special someone, fishing, sailing your boat, canoeing/kayaking (3-5 mph), gardening, leisure biking/stationary bike, leisure swimming (what you consider “easy”), table tennis, shooting hoops, non-competitive volleyball, and golfing!  

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Interview with Orlando Magic Wheels

Our intern, Alan Thach, interviewed Jim Moore and Javier Rodriguez, team representative of the Orlando Magic Wheels. The Orlando Magic Wheels (OMW) is a member of the National Wheelchair Basketball Association (NWBA) where physically challenged athletes compete in fast moving basketball tournament play. 

Check out this informative YouTube video for more information about the team, it's history and their mission! 

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Backwards Walking May Be More Helpful Than You Think

What is the most common cause of long-term disability amongst adults? Stroke (National Hospital Care Survey Demonstration Projects: Stroke Inpatient Hospitalizations, 2019). According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 795,000 people in the United States have a stroke. 610,000 of them being their first new stroke. Subsequently, strokes can reduce mobility in more than half of stroke survivors aged 65 and older (Heart Disease and Stroke Statistics, 2022). The aftermath can affect your ability to transfer, ambulate (fancy term for walking), prevent you from doing activities of daily living, living independently, and increase your risk of falling.

Backward walking activates more muscles in comparison to forwardfeet walking  walking, targets knee flexion and helps to activate those muscles
that haven't been firing correctly because of the aftermath of the 
stroke. 



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How to Get Involved With the National Wheelchair Basketball Association (NWBA)

How to Get Involved With the National Wheelchair Basketball Association (NWBA)

Many are inspired by the feats on display in Tin Soldiers. This documentary covers the lives of paralympians including gold medalist Alana Nichols. Pulse, based on the life of Oksana Masters, is also popular. (You can watch both movies for free with an Amazon Prime trial.)

Maybe you were inspired by the 2020 documentary Rising Phoenix that went behind the scenes with top athletes in the Paralympic Games. Now you might be wondering what sport is right for you.

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NFL Football Players with Disabilities

Having a disability does not define what a person can or cannot do which is evident by the numerous examples that professional athletes have set. There are many professional athletes that have persevered through mental and physical disabilities in order to reach the highest positions in their profession. An example of this is Shaquem Griffin who was an outside linebacker for the Seattle Seahawks.

Griffin had his left hand amputated as a result of amniotic band syndrome and decided to continue his dream of playing football. Griffin was offered a scholarship to play at the University of Central Florida in which he was a critical part in bringing the program into the national spotlight. In Griffin’s final season at the University of Central Florida, he was the Atlantic Athletic Conference Defensive Player of the Year, an All American and 2018 Peach Bowl Defensive Most Valuable Player. He also helped University of Central Florida achieve an undefeated season in 2017 that led to a Peach Bowl victory against the University of Auburn.

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'Tis the season to be safe!

'Tis the season to be safe! 

The holiday season has always been referred to as the best time of the year. Even if you are not travelling to visit family and friends in other areas, there are still many activities and fun things to do with your family while at home or in the local Tallahassee community!

family holiday gathering

The best gift is creating memories with family.

The holiday season is a special time of year and by doing some of these activities it can help bring families together as they celebrate! 

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The Benefits of Walking Outside

I do not think anyone could have imagined the challenges that presented themselves in 2020. Beginning with quarantine and then states slowly beginning to reopen brought people new routines. One thing that did get added to many people's new routines was at-home workouts. As the summer ended and winter months approached, many resorted to outdoor activities to help improve not only their physical health but their mental health as well. Staying isolated can take a toll on a person, and some doctors have begun to write “nature prescriptions” (Ducharme, 2019).

family walking outdoorsBeing outside for 20 minutes can help improve your mood and well-being.

Increased time outdoors also means an increase in the body’s intake of vitamin D, which is known to help improve the immune system, bone density, and depression.

The nature prescriptions that doctors have chosen to write are to help with overall health. Whether you walk, run, hike, bike, swim or even sit down to take in the environment or fresh air, being outside for 20 minutes can help improve your mood and well-being (Ducharme, 2019).

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Leadership Spotlight: Gordon Palmer

Gordon Palmer currently serves as the president of the Board of Directors for SportsAbility Alliance (formerly Florida Disabled Outdoors Association). Since FDOA was founded in 1990, Gordon has been involved as a participant, volunteer, and board member. His first exposure to the organization was through the SportsAbility Expo, and he was instantly captivated by FDOA’s mission. Throughout the years, the SportsAbility Expo has remained Gordon’s favorite FDOA program.

Gordon's advice to newly injured people...

“... be strong, get an education and get to work. It's worth it.”Photo of Gordon Palmer

When he was 18, Gordon was injured in a car accident two weeks before his high school graduation, which left him a quadriplegic. He says he was blessed to have the support of his family and friends after the accident and would not have made it as far as he has without their support. Gordon used his injury as a catalyst to begin advocating for others with disabilities. Over the years, he has been active in various non-profit organizations, including the Center for Independent living of North Florida (Abilities 1st) and the Florida Transportation Disadvantaged Commission. Gordon stated, “My advice would be to someone who is newly injured to be strong, get an education and get to work. It's worth it.” He wants others to know that there are also many organizations and agencies, like Vocational Rehabilitation, that will assist you. 

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Leadership Spotlight: Bill Redmon

Bill Redmon currently serves as a board member for the Florida Disabled Outdoors Association. He is a retired Camp Director, a team-building consultant, and owner of Wild Creek Adventures. Bill is also an advocate of the Removing Barriers Initiative and got involved with FDOA at an adaptive kayaking seminar that opened the conversation for his future involvement. He has been a crucial part of organizing multiple events at FDOA, but his favorite so far has to be the SportsAbility Sampler at the Family Café.

For Bill Inclusion Means...

"Being aware of each person as a person and intentionally including them in the joys of life"Image of Bill Redmon

Besides FDOA, Bill is the founder of StirringWaters, which he created based on his vision of providing a safe place where no one felt left out sitting on the deck, but everyone would be able to get into the fun. StirringWaters is a waterpark for people with disabilities. He wants to provide a safe space that is fully and intentionally inclusive for all types of disabilities.

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Remote Work as the Pathway to Inclusivity

Following the coronavirus crisis, the workplace has changed for just about everyone. Logging onto Zoom meetings has become the regular substitute for arriving at the office and being greeted by coworkers in person. While most people are experiencing the transition to remote work, one company, in particular, has been very familiar with virtual office space for years. The company has built a model to encourage inclusivity for years, dating back to before the pandemic. It has no intention of going back into the office anytime soon.

In 2013, two roommates at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology founded Ultranauts; a start-up focused on software and data engineering. Since its founding, Ultranauts has served as a model for inclusivity. The kicker here is that Ultranauts has been a remote-based company from the very beginning. There are many examples that Ultranauts demonstrates in the path to more inclusive leadership.

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US Disability Soccer Network

If you love the beautiful game and want to exercise more, playing soccer is something you should consider. The US Soccer Disability Committee created a network to provide opportunities for people with disabilities to play soccer. On their website, usdisabilitysoccernetwork.com, you'll find different organizations providing services, training, and competitions. These are some of the many categories of disability soccer that athletes can take part in at all different levels and ages:

Blind Soccer

Blind soccer, also known as football-5-a-side, is an official sport in the Paralympic Games. The rules of the traditional game have been modified and adapted for athletes with visual impairments. There are five players on each team, and the match is played on a solid surface. There is no offside rule, and players have to wear blindfolds. The ball contains small bells, helping players locate it based on its noise when it travels. Finally, the goalkeepers are usually sighted but are confined to the goal area. 

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Nutrition, Exercise, and Mental Health During COVID-19

Dr. Vicari Erwin-Wilson, who has her Doctor of Medicine from the University of Florida, is a board-certified family physician in Tallahassee, Florida. Throughout her career, Dr. Erwin-Wilson has been encouraging patients to take care of their bodies, both physically and mentally. However, this has become even more important over the last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In this post, Dr. Erwin-Wilson gives advice on how to stay physically and mentally healthy during this unprecedented time.

Photo of Dr. Erwin-Wilson“Be sure to do something you enjoy, because smiling and feeling happy has been proven to improve the immune response and overall well-being.”

One important aspect of staying healthy is through adequate nutrition. With a bachelor’s degree in human nutrition, Dr. Erwin-Wilson is passionate about eating a proper diet and encouraging others to do so. One of her favorite healthy meals to cook is salmon with broccoli and brown rice. Dr. Erwin-Wilson believes food can greatly impact a person’s health. To help boost the immune system, she recommends getting adequate protein (from things such as lean meats, eggs, fish, nuts, and beans) and eating a variety of fruits and vegetables. The dark green, orange, yellow, and purple vegetables have specific chemicals called phytonutrients that pump up the immune system.  One way she suggests getting a balanced diet is by having “a good variety by eating a rainbow of colors.”

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Leadership Spotlight: Jeff Douglas

In 1991 while Jeffery (Jeff) Douglas was working at the Student Disability Resource Center (SDRC) at Florida State University, FDOA founder David Jones reached out to him in hopes of getting students with disabilities involved in recreation. Jeff has been participating and volunteering with FDOA ever since. Throughout the years, Jeff’s favorite FDOA event has been SportsAbility. He served as an advisory board member since August 2003 and joined the board of directors as the Director at Large in November 2020.

Photo of Jeff Douglas
Jeff's Idea of the perfect world

“Where there is a true concern for peace, patience, respect for each other without judging, and love.”

 

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