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December 14, 2012

‘Triumph’-ing over disability

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The term disability is a word often misinterpreted as something that causes an inability to carry on with one’s activities in life.

Volunteers, ambassadors and disabled athletes recently demonstrated that disability does not necessarily mean inability during an adapted sports clinic and demonstration for the Edwards community at the Youth Center Gym Dec. 6. This event was done with the help of the Triumph Foundation, the UCLA Adaptive Recreation program and the Edwards Youth Center.

“We wanted to do an event that really emphasized the diversity of all populations and just the different activities that everyone can be included in no matter what your ability level,” said Hailey Stanley, Youth Programs intern and Adapted Sports Clinic coordinator. “For the kids, I think it definitely gives them a real world perspective and it shows them that even though somebody may have a certain limitation, they’re really not limited and that there are ways to get involved with individuals who are different from them whether it is socially or athletically.”

As an introduction to the clinic, kids were presented with testimonies by Triumph Foundation ambassadors who spoke about their experiences and how they prevailed in spite of their disabilities.

“I suffered a spinal cord injury eight years ago and obviously it was something I never dreamed could happen to me, but after my accident I felt the need to help out other people that suffered injuries like mine, so my wife and I started the Triumph Foundation,” said Andrew Skinner, Triumph Foundation director. “Our mission is to help people triumph over some of the obstacles they face when they deal with physical disabilities and so we specialize in helping people with spinal cord injuries that become paralyzed, but we also try spread our wings to help people from all walks of life and try to inspire everyone to live life to its fullest and to become better every day.”

As part of the event’s activities, kids were able to participate in wheelchair basketball, wheelchair rugby, bocce ball, and a circuit challenge course, which had different physical activities and exercises for the kids to attempt.

“We’re not only here to promote basketball or rugby, but we’re here to promote inclusion on a grander scale,” said Michael Garafola, UCLA Adaptive Recreation Program volunteer and ambassador with the Triumph Foundation. “A lot of times, individuals with disabilities are really segregated from society, so it’s important to not only educate the individuals with disabilities but to educate the people without to make sure they’re including anyone with a disability within their community.”

Throughout the clinic, kids were encouraged to ask questions while participating in each of the athletic clinics.

“We really try to instill in the kids that they may not go through a trial like I did with a spinal cord injury, but they will go through some obstacles in life and sometimes it’s not about what happens to you, but what you do about it and really living life with a purpose. When you live to serve I think that’s the most fulfilling life you can live,” said Skinner.

For more information or to volunteer with the Triumph Foundation, go to www.triumph-foundation.org.




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