Members of the IU Adapted Sports and Recreation club play a game of pickup wheelchair basketball at the Wildermuth Intramural Center on Thursday, April 27, 2017. Courtesy photo


It’s taken a few years, but the students and faculty in the recreational therapy program at Indiana University have created an adaptive sports program for Bloomington.

A committee of university and community members was formed in 2014 to address the lack of area sports opportunities for people with disabilities. Three years later, a $40,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has helped make a new student organization, the Adaptive Sports Program at IU, a reality.

The Adaptive Sports Program presently includes a wheelchair basketball team, plus an aquatics and strength training component. Basketball practices are held at the Wildermuth Intramural Center. Brady Singleton, a tactical strength and conditioning coach in the IU Department of Military Science, developed a weekly strength workout. Adaptive swimming at the IU Outdoor Pool, led by IU Aquatic Institute Director William Ramos, will begin this summer.

The program is open to all IU students, staff, and members of the Bloomington community.

U.S. Marine Corp veteran and IU senior Evan Davis joined the steering committee in 2016. He, along with IU senior and former U.S. Paralympic athlete Cat Bouwkamp and Jennifer Piatt, an assistant professor in the IU Department of Recreation, Park, and Tourism Studies, spearheaded the founding of the organization.

“I want to promote the concept of adaptive sports and of letting everyone, regardless of ability, to be able to participate,” says Bouwkamp, 21. Born with a birth defect in her right leg, Bouwkamp participated in competitive fencing from age 13 to 18.

The group holds monthly demonstration scrimmages so people can jump in wheelchairs and play, Davis says. An able-bodied person and president of the Wheelchair Basketball Sport Club, Davis plays alongside those with disabilities and other able-bodied people.

Davis says right now he needs more men and women with disabilities to participate. His goal is to develop a team through the National Wheelchair Basketball Association.

Piatt wants the program to enlighten people about the need for adaptive sports. “Sports can be a venue to change a culture and make things more inclusive,” she says.

For more information, visit the group’s Facebook page,
Adaptive Sports and Recreation at Indiana University, or email [email protected]