Fit for all
On Thursday, the Campus Recreation and Wellness Center hosted its first Day at the Rec, an event designed to show the center’s adaptive qualities to disabled students.
Rec Center intern Troy Hoff said he came up with the idea for the event because he has a strong passion to help disabled students.
"It’s good for the whole campus in general to see this also," Hoff said. "It’s for (the disabled students) today, to come out here and see what they can do."
A Day at the Rec showcased rock climbing, beep baseball and swimming. Hoff invited the Pasadena Texans, a professional wheelchair rugby team, to participate at the event by playing a game for disabled students to watch and participate in.
Beep baseball, Hoff explained, is baseball designed for the blind. Because the players cannot see the ball, it beeps to alert players when to swing the bat and where the bases are.
UH graduate student Jacob Klementich, who suffers from a traumatic head injury he had when he was younger, said he had a good time climbing the rock wall.
"It gets your heart racing and your joints are real sore," he said.
Interim Director of the Rec Center Reginald Riley said the Rec Center was built to be used by all students.
"Students with disabilities need to know that we’re here for them, also," he said.
Riley said the Rec Center staff took sensitivity training to better prepare them to help disabled students.
He also said that this isn’t the first time the Rec Center and the Center for Students with Disabilities have involved disabled students through adaptive sports and exercise.
The Rec Center and CSD have made plans in the past to implement other events such as A Day at the Rec, Riley said, but the events never took place.
"I think it’s a lack of advertisement," he said.
Riley also said he plans on having A Day at the Rec at least once a year.
Vice President for Student Affairs Elwyn Lee said A Day at the Rec is an exciting way to show disabled students different things they can do to enjoy exercise and games.
"The Rec Center should be available for everybody," Lee said. "This shows (disabled students) what’s possible."
Lee said it’s a great idea to have UH implement a club or adaptive sports team for disabled students.
"We’d have to have people to play," he said, "but then we might have some intramural teams within the University. If the Center for Disabilities and the Rec Center can team up with that, I think it would be just fantastic."
CSD Director Cheryl Amoruso said the day was a success.
"It’s a learning experience for everybody," she said. "It shows people with disabilities can play sports, too."
Armoruso said it’s essential for disabled students to know about and participate in adaptive sports.
"It’s extremely important that people, even those who have disabilities, get exercise," she said.
Riley agreed, adding that it’s important to keep the Rec Center accessible to all students.
"(The students) are already paying for it," he said, "so they might as well use it."
Kinesiology senior Twiggy McIntyre said she was amazed by A Day at the Rec.
"I’m really impressed with the accommodations and how patient they are to everyone. A lot of disabled students don’t have any form of exercise. It’s great for them to get this opportunity," she said.
CSD Assistant Director Alan Russell said it’s a great opportunity for disabled students to experience activities and see all the different things that are accessible and available to people with a range of impairments.
"It’s been a lot of fun," he said. "I’m glad I participated in the beep baseball. I think it’s a great day in terms of awareness for staff and students, so students can see what they can do and for the staff so they can experience people with a range of impairments using the facilities," Russell said.
Graduate student Marcus Edwards, who has a cervical spinal injury, didn’t participate in any of the events, but said he had a good time watching everyone. He said implementing an adaptive sports team at UH would "build school spirit."
Political science senior Jason Snead, who has cerebral palsy, said he goes to the Rec Center to work out every day.
"It’s a good idea to give people an opportunity to see that disabled people can always find something to stay fit," Snead said. "(The Rec Center) is the best gym I’ve seen so far."
Riley and Amoruso also talked about starting a special orientation each semester for disabled students to visit the Rec Center and see all it has to offer.
"We want to have a way for the disabled (students) to know that we exist and what we have for them," Riley said.
It remains to be seen whether A Day at the Rec will become an annual event, but the Rec Center and CSD agree that this is a step in the right direction.