Recently, veterans and youth with physical disabilities spent a day enjoying adapted sport and recreation programs at Georgia Southern University’s Armstrong Campus in Savannah during Blaze Day.
Hosted by the Center for Rehabilitation and Independent Living (CRIL), in conjunction with BlazeSports America, Blaze Day provided an opportunity for coastal region residents with disabilities to experience a range of activities and learn that with a few adaptations, everyone can enjoy recreation and sport activities.
“Our hope was that this clinic was the first step to developing community-based sport and recreation programs for youth and veterans with physical disabilities in our region,” stated Gavin Colquitt, Ed.D., executive director of the CRIL.
In addition to participants, Georgia Southern students also had the chance to participate as they gained experience and volunteered within the community. Student volunteers from the Department of Health Sciences and Kinesiology and Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) Program in the Department of Rehabilitation Science within the Waters College of Health Professions helped contribute to the event’s success.
Heather Lorden, DPT, associate professor of physical therapy, coordinated the participation of students from the DPT Program.
“Approximately 12 of our DPT students volunteered to assist with set-up, participant engagement and clean-up activities as part of Blaze Day,” Lorden said. “The DPT students continually strive to embody the ethical principles that drive the profession of physical therapy. A dedication to meeting the needs of all people locally, nationally and globally is one of those guiding principles.”
Kelly Ashley, an undergraduate exercise science student, wasn’t sure what to expect when she volunteered.
“Special populations fill my heart, and any chance I get to work with these kids, to get them involved and exposed to activities just like other children their age, I love to help,” said Ashley.
Student volunteers helped set up equipment for the event and participated alongside participants throughout the day, including a game of wheelchair basketball.
“What an incredible experience and perspective this was,” Ashley said. “To be in someone else’s position for an hour and be provided with a glimpse of their adaptations and physical requirements in the game was truly incredible.”
DPT student Sarah Hall also volunteered for the event.
“Blaze Day was a great opportunity to meet people with all different backgrounds and learn all sorts of new activities,” Hall said. “I never thought I would be learning how to play wheelchair basketball and shoot an arrow in the same day, but I had the best time doing it.”
With the help of volunteers and sponsors like Optim Orthopedics Foundation, BlazeSports, Nine Line Apparel and Bowtreader, the first adapted sports clinic hosted outside the metro Atlanta area was a huge success, Colquitt said.