By Katie Darragh, communication intern in the Office of University Relations at Marquette University
Offering their time, hands and hearts to serve the community through adaptive sport, Marquette’s Adaptive Abilities club is a service-based group of volunteers who partner with local adaptive sports organizations to give children and adults with limited ability the opportunity to participate in various sporting activities, in addition to allowing those of all abilities to experience adaptive sports.
Friday, Nov. 18, Adaptive Abilities partnered with The Wisconsin Adaptive Sports Association to host a “Try It” event centered on allowing individuals of all abilities to try out various adaptive sports and recreational activities.
The event included demonstrations of wheelchair basketball, lacrosse, rugby, tennis and pickleball led by WASA coaches and instructors.
Participants did not need to be non-ambulatory to play the adaptive sports, as many individuals who participate in adaptive sports are ambulatory but have a physical disability that prevents them from keeping up at the level of play of non-adaptive sports.
Marquette’s Adaptive Abilities club was founded by Dr. Tina Stoeckmann, a clinical professor of physical therapy in the College of Health Sciences at Marquette. After years of taking students to various adaptive sport and recreation events, she created a formal club to allow more students to get involved.
Since Adaptive Abilities was established, Stoeckmann says, “our students have established and maintained a high level of respect in the disability community, enhancing Marquette’s image and reputation with our community partners. I couldn’t be prouder this group of students!”
Club president Leah Kern, a graduate student in physical therapy, shares how her volunteer experience with Adaptive Abilities has increased her understanding of different levels of abilities and has made her a better therapist.
“I’ve been able to use these experiences I’ve gained through the club during my first clinical experience working with patients who have neurologic deficits,” Kern says.
One of the club’s goals is to help students become more conscientious and inclusive health care professionals. Stoeckmann says the club’s partnered events help.
“These opportunities help students grow, to understand their civic duties and to get to know and support their neighbors by becoming involved in their community,” she says. “This club helps students give of their talents and learn about themselves and others who may be very different from themselves.”
Kern agrees: “The Adaptive Abilities club has been a big part of my Marquette experience and my integration into the physical therapy field. One important consideration for therapy that I will carry with me is focusing on everything participants can do instead of what their impairments are.”
Students interested in getting involved with Adaptive Abilities are encouraged to follow the club on its Instagram account: @aacmarquette.
“Our volunteers are what keep our club going, so we are always happy to have passionate people get involved with our club,” Kern says.