WBZ Cares: Increasing Participation

BOSTON (WBZ-AM) -- Each month, “WBZ Cares” highlights a worthy non-profit organization and tells the story of what that organization does for the community. This month WBZ is profiling Adaptive Sports New England, a non-profit organization dedicated to increasing participation in sports and physical activity among New England youth and young adults who have visual or mobility disabilities.

WBZ Cares features Adaptive Sports New England, making sports more inclusive and increasing participation among children and young adults with visual or mobility impairments.

“They’re not invited to play sports as often just because they don't know that they can play. And the kids around them, the adults around them, don't realize that they can play. But with just modest adaptations they certainly can play,” said Adaptive Sports New England Founder and President Joe Walsh.

 Founder Joe Walsh is legally blind himself.

“Prior to this I had worked for the U.S. Olympic Paralympic committee and in the role of managing director of U.S. Paralympics, and we noticed that there weren't a lot of kids playing sports and coming up through our development system. So when I was done with that project I came back home here to Boston and looked at how do we increase the participation in sports by youth who have either vision impairment or mobility impairment which are the two big disability groups covered by the Paralympic Games. We work with coaches and the parents to help them realize what some of those adaptations could be so that the kids can play either in a dedicated Paralympic Sport program or in their local school program or at their local YMCA,” said Walsh.

“Being able to have that camaraderie, that sense of belonging, and you don't have to hide your true self. I think it's just so, so important,” outlined Paralympian Anna Johannes, ASNE Board Member, and Swim Coach.

Paralympian Anna Johannes is an Adaptive Sports board member and swim coach.

“Full circle coming to coach the other kids with disabilities, and you know, it's not just other kids with one hand. It's visually impaired. Its young adults who have been recently injured just trying to make it back. Finding meaning within Sport, and so just being able to coach them in general is so amazing and you know, I still want to coach still do it after I'm retired just because it's, you know, not only feels good to give back but then also just don't see these kids go from not even learning how to dive to being on National C Team,” said Johannes.

WBZ NewsRadio1030's Shari Small Reports

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