New Guidelines to Enhance Adaptive Sports School Programs

We’re a little late to the party. But we wanted to share the news from the American Association of Adapted Sports Programs. They’re about exciting new guidelines on adapted sports programs in schools. It will make it easier for disabled children to get involved in these life changing programs.

The new guidance was issued by the US Dept of Education’s Office of Civil Rights (OCR).  The guidelines clarify  schools’  responsibilities under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act  to provide  athletic opportunities for students with disabilities. Below are excerpts of their info on the new guidelines, for the complete article, click here.

Guidelines on Adapted Sports Programs

“Each person and group who has worked  within  this sports movement can take heart that their work has not gone unnoticed and that with this new guidance we can further advance our  vital work of making sure all kids who want to take part in school   sports will have an opportunity to do so,” said Beverly Vaughn, AAASP Cofounder and Executive Director.

The guidance followed a 2010 study from  the  Government Accountability Office. GAO found that students with   disabilities receive fewer opportunities for physical activity and   sports participation than students without disabilities. The GAO called   on the Department of Education to provide resources to assist states  and  schools in addressing this disparity of services and also asked  that  clarification of schools’ responsibilities be provided regarding   athletic opportunities for students under Section 504 of the   Rehabilitation Act.

Advocates invoke Title IX

The Inclusive Fitness Coalition, comprised of  over 200 groups around the nation, including AAASP, has  called OCR’s  guidance a landmark moment in opening the doors to  students with  disabilities in much the same way as Title IX has done for women. “It sends a loud message to educational institutions that  students with  disabilities must be provided opportunities for physical  activity and  sports equal to those afforded to students without  disabilities,”  according to AAASP Board member, Terri Lakowski, CEO of Active Policy Solutions in Washington, DC and former policy director for  the Women’s  Sports Foundation. Lakowski has championed efforts for equal  physical  activity and sports opportunities for women, girls and  students with  disabilities for over ten years.


Researchers with Healthy People 2011  indicated  that since activity levels in adulthood are usually lower  than during  childhood, sport and physical activity patterns established during  childhood form the foundation for lifelong physical activity  and  subsequent health and contribute to an overall quality of life.

Adapted Sports ProgramsStudies considered by OCR in issuing  their  guidance also establish that children with physical disabilities  have  greater activity barriers. Schools often don’t encourage them to lead  active lives and in fact this failure tends to lead to sedentary lives with  greater health problems that may be avoidable.

Commenting on OCR’s announcement, Tommie  Storms,  AAASP’s Cofounder and Director of Operations noted that, “From  its  founding nearly 16 years ago, when our model was integrated into  10  school districts in less than three months time. AAASP has utilized   every tool at its disposal to develop and implement policy, systems,   adapted rules and training opportunities that have led to lasting   sustainability and reasonable costs.”

Vaughn added, “We would also be remise not to acknowledge those who comprise our member schools and high school associations. And nearly two decades of input, review and recognition for our collective efforts by many of the nations’ best minds. Especially in this area of sport and physical development. This news could not come at a better time for these administrators, teachers, coaches and coordinators. The people who’ve dedicated themselves to the success of these students.”

Parents  whose children take part in  these  programs have reported that it has been nothing short of a life  changing  experience for their child.

The other top benefits identified by parents whose children participate include:

  • The opportunity to play sports that the kids would otherwise never have
  • Noted reductions over previous  years in  secondary health complications resulting from sedentary  habits.
  • The ability to work hard, participate in a group, set goals, & excel in sports
  • Increased motivation to get good grades, improvement in academics
  • Active engagement and friendship with other students, mentors, & coaches

Congrats to everyone who helped in this effort. We’re feeling thrilled to see growing support for the adapted athletes of tomorrow. We’ve been feeling absolutely inspired by the impact of sports on children and adults after a spinal cord injury. And in fact they’re not alone.

To view the complete guidelines, click here: Read Guidelines