Athletes who use wheelchairs to compete in sporting events are taking part in a camp at the University of Northern Iowa this week. The 6th annual camp features competitive and recreational activities — all for athletes with a physical disability. Mike Boone, director of Adaptive Sports Iowa, says many participants don’t realize what they can achieve until they’re matched with the right equipment.
“They can go out and ride RAGBRAI, they can go out and participate in a track meet, they can go rock climbing,” Boone says. “There are so many different things that we take for granted and someone with a disability, they need to be connected with those technologies to realize, yes, they can do this as well.”
The camp runs four days and is staffed by experienced athletes and coaches from Iowa and Illinois. Boone says this group of people is often overlooked when it comes to providing healthy opportunities. As the state launches its “blue zones” campaign, he urges organizers to be more inclusive and to help attract people who are in wheelchairs.
“It’s hard to do that if you completely negate the demographic that more often than not is the most unhealthy demographic, the physically-disabled group,” Boone says. “Research shows one in ten people nationally that have a physical disability engage in daily activity.
That means 90% of the demographic doesn’t do any daily activity.” During the camp, participants in wheelchairs get involved in a host of sports, including basketball, rock-climbing and various track and field events. Boone’s company donates a dozen sports chairs and several hand cycles for the campers to use.