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Reform: Inclusion in Sports

Issue: Children with physical and intellectual disabilities are not given the same opportunity to participate in sports as able-bodied children and therefore are not as active and generally more overweight.

Reform Statement: No person in the United States shall, on the basis of disability, be denied or excluded from youth sports or any other form of physical activity. This will be implemented by mandating that every county provides youth with disabilities the opportunity to participate in physical activities to decrease negative physical and emotional consequences that children with disabilities face.

Prong 1: To promote physical activity in youth with disabilities and therefore decrease the risk of obesity, each county will provide adaptive sports equipment. Children and their families will have the opportunity to rent adaptive equipment and purchase at a discounted price if it is the right fit for their interests, disability, and body type.

Prong 2: Children will have the opportunity to participate in integrated leagues, where both able-bodied and children with disabilities can participate in sports. The purpose of these leagues will be to include children with disabilities with their peers, teach children the sport and good sportsmanship, and to have fun, make friends, and teach able-bodied children how to engage with their peers with disabilities.

Prong 3: Children with disabilities will be able to participate in exercise programs with a personal trainer, a group, or on their own that will promote independence, strength, and personal goals to increase self-esteem.

Funding Source: Integrated leagues will be run by volunteers and will be funded by member fees that will exceed no more than $75 and will be the same price for both able-bodied children and children with disabilities. Adaptive equipment and exercise programs will be funded by regional professional sports teams. This will allow professional athletes to give back to a different segment of their community and promote sports and physical activity for children of all abilities.

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