Embracing the Game: A Comprehensive Guide for Individuals with Disabilities to Engage in Sports in the St. Louis Region
Sports have long been proven to improve mental health, physical health, help individuals build community, and many more benefits. It has also been shown that the benefits of sports extend to individuals with disabilities, and in addition can help build independence, boost self-esteem, and promote empowerment. If you or a loved one have a disability and want to get involved with sports in your local area, you may be wondering, where do you start? Delta Center is here to help you get connected with local disabled sports organizations. Here are four different organizations where individuals with disabilities can get involved in sports in the St. Louis area—
The Disabled Athletes Sports Association is a Missouri-based organization with its headquarters in Saint Peters. Their mission is to empower individuals with disabilities to find their inner athlete and discover their abilities through adaptive sports and fitness activities. DASA has programs for disabled individuals of all ages and in a variety of different sports/activities, working with local fitness centers and locations to help their athletes learn, practice, and compete. Their programs include but are far from limited to rock climbing, wheelchair basketball, archery, swimming, sled hockey, and much more. DASA has a program for every individual with a disability, regardless of their level in sport. They provide everything from introductory programs to Paralympic training, and serve as an official Missouri Paralympic Club. To join DASA as an athlete, donate, and find out more about their extensive programs, visit their website linked above.
St. Louis Chapter of Achilles International
Achilles International is a global organization that welcomes individuals with disabilities into running events, helping them build community, boost confidence, and stay healthy. With 62 chapters worldwide, Achilles International has served 150,000 disabled individuals through running, walking, and rolling in their own sponsored races and mainstream races alongside other competitors. For 40 years, Achilles athletes have participated in marathons, triathlons, adaptive cycling races, and much more. They have teams for all ages and abilities, including the Achilles Freedom Team, which trains and helps wounded, injured or ill veterans build a supportive community, boost self-esteem, and stay active regardless of their disabilities. For more information about Achilles International’s programs, history, and resources, visit their website linked above.
The Recreation Council of Greater St. Louis is a non-profit organization that is dedicated to supporting and sponsoring activities for individuals with developmental disabilities of all ages. The Council provides funding for these programs, as well as distributes information about them. A large portion of these activities and programs are centered around sports and fitness, including team, individual, recreational, educational, and competitive sports. Visiting their comprehensive online program directory is a great way to find any program you or a loved one may be interested in.
TREE (Therapy, Recreation, Education, Exploration) House is an organization that provides Equine-assisted therapy services to help improve the lives of individuals with disabilities and their families. Formerly known as Therapeutic Horsemanship, TREE House helps its clients of all ages and abilities bond with horses, learn horsemanship, improve their health, be active, build self- and animal-care skills, and boost confidence. TREE House, located in Wentzville on 90 acres of sprawling land, offers an array of Equine-related therapy programs, including mental health programs, adaptive therapeutic riding, summer camps for kids 5–18, and a therapeutic program for injured active military personnel and veterans called Freedom Reins. The therapy programs at TREE House are run by licensed physical and occupational therapists, licensed counselors, and certified riding instructors to ensure the best possible program for each individual. Equine therapy has been proven to help benefit the lives of individuals with a variety of disabilities, mental health concerns, substance abuse, and more. For more information about the programs available at TREE House, visit their website linked above.
Individual and team sports can be a wonderful way for people of all ages with disabilities to engage in community, boost their mental and physical health, set goals, gain independence, and have fun. In addition to the resources stated here, Delta Center can connect you with more organizations that help individuals with disabilities to engage in sport activities in the St. Louis region. To see these, visit our resource page under “Sport Activities for People with Disabilities.”