It is currently estimated that less than one in five disabled people take part in sport on a weekly basis – despite all the evidence about the physical and mental health benefits brought by regular physical exercise.
Whatever your level of physical or cognitive ability, there are adapted sports for you, whether you are an adrenaline junkie with a taste for exhilarating experiences, a sociable type who loves being part of a team, or more interested in testing your own individual limits and abilities.
Find the adapted sport that’s best for you
To get you started, this neat little parasport app will help you pinpoint suitable sports to try, depending on any impairment you may have:
Clever adapted sport solutions from Remap
In case you are not familiar with their work, Remap specialise in engineering solutions where there is no existing product to solve a problem. They were asked to produce an archery facility for users with disabilities at Calshot Activities Centre.
Their solution supports the bow at a variable height to cater for different size users. In addition, the bow can be removed from the support by a quick release mechanism, so that it can conveniently be used by those capable of standing as well as users in wheelchairs. The horizontal angle and tilt of the bow can be adjusted for aiming at the target.
The bow was equipped with an extension with release mechanism so that the bow string can be drawn and fixed in the extended position until the release mechanism is operated. With this provision, users with limited strength could have a helper to draw the bow, but then be able to aim and fire themselves. Where the user’s condition is such that they have difficulty holding the aim steady, the pan and tilt have locking screws.
The bow-supporting device was constructed using a heavy duty photographic monopod with a pan and tilt head. These devices have a clip-in camera mount to which the bow and its curved tubular extension was attached. The monopod is telescopic with simple clamps for height adjustment. For some reason, camera monopods have the smaller diameter section at the bottom. Remap reversed this during construction, for greater resistance to horizontal strain, and the larger diameter section was mounted into an aluminium base tube to raise the whole apparatus, allowing for operation from the lowest wheelchair user to the tallest standing archer. The base tube was mounted on a plywood sheet in such a way that the weight of the user holds the system steady.
The system has also been adapted for rifle shooting (above right), and now that they have this equipment, the centre can offer archery and shooting to disabled students for whom it was previously impossible.
Adapted sport for powerchair users
An exciting, tactical game, wheelchair football is currently the only team game for power chair users. Each 40-minute game involves teams of eight players competing against one another. These players regular substitute with one another, with a maximum of four members from each team on the pitch at any one time. They use their powerchairs, with specialist ‘bumper’ attachments fixed to the front, to control and pass an oversized 330mm football, and score goals.
There are 50 clubs playing across the UK (none yet in Wales), with a National League, WFA Cup and regional competitions taking place on a regular basis.
Here are some national organisations that can help with access to adapted sport activities:
British Hang-gliding and Paragliding Association
British Wheelchair Sports Foundation
English Federation of Disability Sport
Great British Wheelchair Basketball Association
Great British Wheelchair Rugby Association
Jubilee Sailing Trust
Disability Snowsport UK