Participating in sports can play an important role in the development of a child. Sports teach coordination and help with physical development, and also help kids develop socially, learn problem-solving skills, gain self-control and self-confidence.
Children who learn differently or have special needs sometimes have a more difficult time finding the perfect fit when it comes to sports. Of course, Special Olympics is an option in nearly every county in Indiana and offers more than 20 Olympic-type sports. However, if you’re looking for a seasonal team or something closer to home, there are many opportunities for boys and girls in the area.
Beep Baseball is for visually impaired and blind athletes, and is played by sound rather than sight. The baseball is equipped with a beeper, so players can hit the ball and find it in the outfield. Bases are also equipped with sound mechanisms. There are two beep baseball leagues in Indianapolis. Indy Thunder and The Edge. Both of these Indy teams have been nationally recognized and travel for tournaments.
Success Through Adaptive Rec (or STAR) soccer places children on teams based on their skill level, rather than their age. Game rules are modified, as are practices, and teams don’t keep score. Instead, teams choose to focus on personal accomplishments and progress, versus winning. Practices and games are played in Hendricks County.
At TOP Soccer at Indy Premier, participants are paired with a buddy throughout the season to ensure a unique and personalized experience based on the athlete’s ability. The program is offered at no cost to participants.
Morning Dove Therapeutic Riding in Zionsville offers hippotherapy, a type of therapy that uses horseback riding and the movement of a horse’s gait to provide motor and sensory benefits. Hippotherapy has proven to increase core strength, posture and endurance … and it’s a lot of fun, too. Morning Dove’s Barn Buddies program allows participants to care for and learn about the care of our horses during the winter months, when the horses aren’t used for therapy sessions. Kids learn basic horse handling techniques, and get to spend ground time with their favorite horses.
Strides to Success in Plainfield hosts a variety of workshops and learning opportunities, as well as unique experiences with horses. Not only can children with special needs benefit from developing relationships and participating in equine therapy or hippotherapy, but depending on ability, Strides offers yoga on horseback, special programming for veterans, mental and emotional healthcare and more.
At Optimist Miracle Movers in Plainfield, athletes can choose from a variety of sports — everything from basketball, swimming, soccer or softball, depending on the season. Each athlete is paired with a buddy to receive individualized attention and assistance during the game.
Rehabilitation Hospital of Indiana hosts a variety of adaptive sports programs, ranging from wheelchair lacrosse, basketball and tennis, to sled hockey and blind hockey. In addition, RHI hosts several clinics per month, giving those interested in learning more or trying something different a chance to experience without signing up for an entire season.
All of the programs at Carmel Clay Parks and The Monon Center are inclusive, and can be modified to suit an individual’s needs. Kids interested in swimming can join the Sea Dragons swim team, which is designed for children with disabilities. There are also opportunities to join adaptive basketball teams, and try out new sports like frisbee golf.