July is National Recreation Month – not that Minnesotans need a specific reason to spend as much time as possible outdoors and being active during the summer. Soccer and baseball teams are running up and down the fields, golfers are working on their swing, and beaches are home to sandcastles or wave jumping. Let’s face it – we love our summer.
But summer is only fun if everyone is able to participate in the activities – so we searched out some recreational activities designed specifically around people who have additional physical or developmental needs. Is your kiddo participating in an activity with a program that isn’t listed here? Leave a comment with the name or the organization, park, or playground and we’ll add it to our list.
The Miracle League is a charitable organization that provides children ages 3-19 with mental and/or physical challenges an opportunity to play baseball as a team member in an organized league, regardless of ability. They promote community support and sponsorship of Miracle Leagues in Minnesota, and promote the construction of special facilities that meet the needs of their players and families.
To find the contact person in your area, visit their website: www.miracleleaguemn.com/contact.html.
Special Olympics Minnesota
Special Olympics Minnesota (SOMN) trainings and competitions happen all year in locations across the state. Through sports, athletes celebrate their abilities, not their disabilities. Their world opens with acceptance and understanding, as they become confident and empowered by their accomplishments.
SOMN offers 17 Olympic-style sports for a variety of age or skill levels. Traditional athletes must be 8 or older, or there is a Young Athlete Program for children ages 2-7. For more information about becoming a traditional athlete, contact Kelly Monicatti at firstname.lastname@example.org or 612.604.1264.
Minnesota Adapted Athletics Association
Students with varying types of disabilities compete co-educationally while representing their school district or combination of school districts. Visit the Minnesota Adapted Athletics Association website to learn more, and then find the appropriate location for your child to participate at. Sports include floor hockey, soccer, and softball.
For more information, contact Jim Muckerhirn at 651-324-0420.
Adaptive Recreation and Learning Exchange (AR&LE)
The cities of Bloomington, Eden Prairie, Edina and Richfield each have programs that are specifically designed for people with disabilities of all ages. These programs include: softball, bowling, swimming lessons, fitness programs, skiing/snowboarding, basketball, as well as a number of social activities for both youths and adults.
Individuals need to fill out a participant profile, so program staff can get to know the participants and be aware of any needs they can expect. For more information, contact Kristin Aarsvold, Recreation Supervisor, at 952-826-0433 or kaarsvold@EdinaMN.gov.
Red Wing Universal Playground
The vision for this playground, located in Colvill Park (510 Nymphara Lane), was created when two Red Wing residents were playing with their children – both who have cerebral palsy – at a playground, and began considering the possibility of building a playground in the area that meets the needs of disabled children as well as adults. Colvill Park is also home to Discovery Park, a wheelchair-accessible raised bed garden.
For more information and directions to the park, visit the City of Red Wing website or the Discovery Garden website.
Madison’s Place – coming soon
The Madison Claire Foundation has partnered with business and community leaders to build our first project – Madison’s Place –the Twin Cities’ East Metro’s first completely handicapped accessible, “inclusive playground” where children with and without disabilities can play together side by side to foster friendships, understanding, and acceptance.
Every facet of the 16,000 square foot structure located on the perimeter of the Bielenberg Sports Center Complex in Woodbury has been designed to optimize accessibility for individuals of all capacities. There will also be an addition of an accessible splash pad to the project and accessible bathrooms.