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Thread: Recreation Centers and You..Opinions?

  1. #1

    Recreation Centers and You..Opinions?

    Recreation Centers and You..Opinions?

    IF.. you had a 17 acre site and could build world class facilities, such as 4 gyms, pool, rooms, stables, tennis courts, marina with lake access, etc. If it were made 100% accessible and dedicated to people with physical disabilities that is also open to the community it is built in for their use.

    How would you feel? Would you (as a person with a physical impairment) prefer a dedicated facility?

    How would the community feel? Do you think they may keep the facility separate or would use it if it were also made available to them?

    There have been prior situations where a community has built facilities with the intent that it be used primarily for people with disabilities. The community then basically labels it as 'special needs' and then does not use the facility. Parents bring their children and play some wheelchair basketball or something, but it fails to involve the community.

    The concern I'm hearing from some if a new center were built, is that it would simply repeat that scenario and cause continued segregation, a ghetto situation. People who may want to use the facility would only use it because it was adapted and not utilize what is available in the community. Using community rec facilities helps to promote integration. Allowing the community to become accustomed to wheelchairs, walkers, or other devices. However, when a community rec center receives funding for x-amount of children, x-amount of adult programs it can provide will they not, do they not, provide prime time usage to the majority and not the minority? The minority in this case being the disabled. Again a person in a chair using a community facility also becomes accustomed to everyday life and being with everyone and not segregated. Do they? They being both the 'AB' community and the 'Disabled' community.

    How does one get the community, society as a whole to accept disabilities into society? Laws such as ADA are passed that help to build a better world tomorrow, but what about today? I've been asked so many times if I participate in the 'Special Olympics'. Can we blame the Kennedys for their wonderful promotion of 'Special Olympics'? I cannot say that helping people with 'special needs' is wrong, far from it, but a by product is that here in the US society has basicaly lumped the two together - Special Needs = Disabled. MR not! I hate the stygma.

    I spent my life just being what I considered normal. Had a life changing experience when I was only 15. Rehab was in what I call an old folks home. The first time I actually dealt with others in chairs was when I attended UT in Austin. I felt such a push to play sports, it was great but it became almost a single focus based upon disability. After leaving university I basically cut all ties with others in chairs. Not wanting to be labeled perhaps, not wanting to see myself in that same group. Was it me? Was it something else I saw of chips on shoulders? Was it society I saw and the looks they gave to a gang of chairs rolling down the street? Maybe it was the way that some AB's wanted to treat me as an 'object' in need and not as a person.

    I went so many years just living my life. Working, playing, many things on my own. Most everyone I met treated me as an individual. I've heard 'inspiration' in so many forms. In just the past 3 years I have become involved in the disabled community. (See, I even labeled it). I did it so I could share my experience with others, to help them get out of their homes and back to society. Working with new injuries to old, with a variety of physical disabilities be it an SCI, birth defect or what have you. I've seen some really great progress for many, seen a few just slide back into the darkness whence they came.

    An opportunity has come to build a facility on Lake Grapevine, Grapevine Tx. The city was given additional land by the Corp of Engineers and they don't use it. Basically the group I work with has an opportunity to lease the land from the Corp. With federal funding build a (I hope) world class facility on the lake.
    Would this help our mission?

    "“To help persons with physical challenges gain independence through a learning experience in adaptive outdoor adventures and sporting programs”

    Currently all our activities take place either in public facilities and parks, or would building this only continue to segregate?

    Just looking for thoughts.


    Rick Brauer
    "If it wasn't documented, it didn't happen."
    Rick Brauer or just call me - Mr B

  2. #2
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    New Mexico
    Several thoughts:

    Pools: could you build three pools--a therapuetic pool (high temps, ramps, bars, lifts) for the disabled and elderly (arthritics); an regular olympic size pool with swimming lanes and diving boards; and a shallow-->deep pool with ledges around the edges, broad half-moon steps with many staircase type bars, and 1-2 poollifts? Dressing rooms??? Make sure that people with ostomies can use the pools!

    Multiple Courts [tennis, basketball, volleyball] with one court for each sport being dedicated to disability groups who can make reservations for recreational teams. Also viewing stands/bleachers with spaces cut out for wheelchair users and walkers/rollators.

    Recreation rooms with height adjustable pool tables, ping-pong table tennis tables, removable seats for video games [think slot machines with removable chairs at casinos].

    Horse stables with a hippotherapist [skilled horse trainer for PWDs] and appropriate mounting ramp and saddles.

    Accessible Boats and Marinas

    Accessible Picnic tables and outdoor furniture with barbeque spits you can roll under

    Shuffleboard courts, bocchi ball courts, etc.

    Outdoor track

    I would no necessarily advocate for seperate facilities, but push for reserved times for the disabled and senior centers. A more friendly family and community type atmosphere. Intergrated not Segregated. I would however push for the hiring of some certified staff--adaptive swimming or gym teachers, maybe an OT or PT.

    Set the bar high

  3. #3
    I think if you build something for universal use with universal design then there is no such thing as segregation. It's a dream...

    I'd love to workout with AB people, it will create dialogue between the two groups. Anyway to educate the public, I'm all for it.
    "Always look at the bright side of life...."

  4. #4
    I'm listening.. Thanks for any response.

    I believe also that its for a universal use, everyone can use, but want it so that those with physical disabilities have prime choice. The problem experienced in the past is that communities have turned the vision around and labeled places 'oh thats for special needs' type stuff. When that happens we lose the opportunity to be with ab's.

    The site would continue to be free. Free usage for anyone with a physical disability.
    Rick Brauer or just call me - Mr B

  5. #5
    Rick: It sounds like a great opportunity. As an avid fitness fanatic and 29 year SCI athlete, I've often dreamed of building a recreation center. I don't know where you are getting the "oh, its for them" attitude. I think you might need to examine it a bit closer. Keep in mind that you are building it for future users and that will include a wide range of people of different physical abilities and different exercise goals. Universal design and barrier free access is a must. In the health club industry, there exists a wide variety of disability-friendly products that meet the needs of a wide-variety of users. Most recently, Johnny G (designer of spinning) has developed Cranking, an upper-body ergometer designed for group fitness, and several companies make easily-used equipment. Pools with zero-entry levels or lifts are helpful, too. Indoor tracks, bball courts, climbing walls, gyms can all be made accessible. Indeed, throughout the US and especially Canada there are accessible community rec centers. And by accessible I mean Universal.
    The sentiments you express about minority-majority break down under close scrutiny. The so-called majority population includes all the minorities and universal design tries to include the widest margin, so not only the disabled benefit but so do seniors, children, those temporarily rehab-ing from injury, and those just beginning an exercise regime. Add those numbers and you have a large swathe of society. If there are still benighted people who choose not to patronize a facility because disabled people go there, that's really their problem. That is certainly not a large enough number to be concerned with; moreover, having a universally-designed facility, would aid in breaking down attitudes such as those. Good luck with the project.

  6. #6
    Rick, do you know Doug English from the Lone Star Paralysis Foundation, he would probably be interested in helping on this project.

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