Steamboat Springs Steamboat Adaptive Recreational Sports is becoming more involved in local schools this year through new adaptive physical education programs.
STARS is expanding on adaptive ski programs offered in the past and will now provide opportunities for hiking, biking and gym sports, including wheelchair basketball.
The organization was able to secure funding to purchase four new basketball wheelchairs, and when added to two already owned by Steamboat Springs High School and two owned by the Steamboat Tennis Association, students and others are now able to play lively games of four-on-four basketball.
“The chairs will be a great way to integrate our kids with disabilities into regular PE classes as well as teach our able-bodied students about acceptance and understanding of their friends with disabilities,” said Kevin Taulman, Steamboat Springs High School principal.
The chairs can be used by students with disabilities, or used during physical education programs by students with or without disabilities.
Some PE teachers are incorporating the chairs into classes by instructing sections on wheelchair basketball, and this week students at the middle school will give sitting volleyball a try, according to Julie Taulman, STARS executive director.
Taulman said the chairs can move around among schools and will also be used some evenings by STARS camps.
STARS has also completed an Adaptive Physical Education Manual addressing the federally mandated need for physical education for all students in schools on a daily basis. The manual details curriculum, descriptions of adaptive sports and equipment, instructions for activities and tips for teaching athletes with disabilities.
“There are over 50 students with disabilities attending Steamboat schools,” Julie Taulman said. “The ultimate goal of this program is to give these students the opportunity to participate at the same level as someone without a disability as well as to build self-esteem, self-confidence and improve their overall physical fitness levels.”
Funds for the wheelchairs came from Disabled Sports USA and Ski Town Rotary Club. Funds to help support the new Adaptive PE program came from the Yampa Valley Community Foundation and the Craig-Scheckman Family Foundation.
Founded in 2007, STARS provides adaptive recreational activities for individuals with disabilities through daytime activities or camps, and the organization now serves more than 450 clients annually. About 50 percent of STARS programming is provided to residents of Routt and Moffat counties.
To reach Teresa Ristow, call 970-871-4206, email tristow@SteamboatToday.com or follow her on Twitter @TeresaRistow