UCP Wheels for Humanity Brings Model Recreational Therapy Program to Children with Disabilities in Embattled Areas of El Salvador

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UCP Wheels for Humanity, in alignment with the National Ability Center, recently conducted a six-day adaptive sports training program for young people with disabilities in San Salvador. This program was designed to foster sustainable, accessible sports programming for young people with disabilities and the therapists who serve them in this embattled area.

UCP Wheels for Humanity (UCP Wheels), a subsidiary of United Cerebral Palsy of Los Angeles, Ventura and Santa Barbara Counties (UCPLA), has aligned with the National Ability Center (NAC) to conduct a six-day adaptive sports training program for youth with disabilities in San Salvador, the violence-plagued capital of El Salvador. Funded through the SportsUnited Division of the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Education and Cultural Affairs, the exchange is part of a two-year project called “Developing Potential and Expanding Awareness: An International Sports Project for Individuals with Disabilities” (Project DPEA), which focuses on expanding access to adaptive sports for underserved youth with physical disabilities and increasing the capacity of their coaches and administrators to provide ongoing adaptive sports programming.

From March 23-29, a US-based multi-sport skills training team, consisting of three professional trainers and a Sports Director, conducted a six-day in-country training program for 36 local coaches and 50 young people with disabilities at the National Sports Institute of El Salvador (INDES) in San Salvador. The goal of the training was not only to increase participants’ knowledge about adaptive sports, but also to provide a sustainable model that will allow for implementation of adaptive sports programs on an ongoing basis. During the training, the US coaching staff also identified six Salvadorian coaches and a select group of 12 youth to travel to the NAC facility in Park City, UT in July 2015 for additional trainings and meetings with a variety of disability service providers as a means of increasing the expertise available on a local level in San Salvador.

“This type of training not only enhances the lives of local young people with disabilities, but it also brings hope and satisfaction to the therapists we are training,” said Ronald S. Cohen, Ph.D., President and Chief Executive Officer of UCPLA, who was in San Salvador for the completion of the training program. “The youth get adaptable, sustainable sports programming to help nourish their many abilities and shield them from the violence in their neighborhoods by offering them a safe and fun activity. And the therapists and coaches we have trained get the chance to offer true mobility and potential to these young people.”

ABOUT UCP Wheels for Humanity – Since 1995, UCP Wheels for Humanity, a subsidiary of United Cerebral Palsy of Los Angeles, Ventura and Santa Barbara Counties, has provided mobility access to over 300,000 children and adults with disabilities in 72 countries. With a focus on comprehensive and sustainable systems, UCP Wheels has an array of international programs working with capacity-building partners to create community-based systems that support long-term change in four areas: mobility, therapy, empowerment and advocacy. For more information, please visit http://www.UCPWheels.org.

ABOUT United Cerebral Palsy of Los Angeles, Ventura and Santa Barbara Counties (UCPLA) – UCPLA operates over 40 program sites throughout five counties in Southern California and has extended its mission to serve all people with developmental disabilities. These programs include adult day activity centers, children’s programs, community living support services, group homes and independent living apartments. UCPLA provides services to over 1100 children and adults with developmental disabilities daily. For more information on UCPLA visit our website at http://www.ucpla.org or Facebook page at facebook.com/ucpla.

ABOUT the National Ability Center – The National Ability Center empowers individuals of all abilities by building self-esteem, confidence and lifetime skills through sport, recreation and educational programs. The National Ability Center provides recreational and sports opportunities to more than 2,200 individuals with disabilities each year. With a campus located in Park City, UT that spans 26 acres, it is one of the largest organizations in the country offering upwards of a dozen adaptive programs, including skiing, snowboarding, adaptive horseback riding, cycling and archery. Individuals of all ages and abilities take part in the programs including those with orthopedic, spinal cord, neuromuscular, visual and hearing impairments, and cognitive and developmental disabilities. To learn more about NAC, visit http://www.discovernac.org/.

ABOUT the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs’ SportsUnited Division – The Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs’ SportsUnited Division leads the U.S. Department of State’s international exchange efforts to bring the global community together through sports. Under its International Sports Programming Initiative, public and private U.S. based non-profit organizations may submit proposals to address one of three themes: Sport for Social Change, Sport and Disability, and Sport and Health. Since 2002, the division has awarded 104 grants to U.S. non-profits to conduct programs in 62 countries around the world. For more information, visit http://eca.state.gov/programs-initiatives/sports-diplomacy.

About INDES/ASADESIR - INDES, the National Sport Institute of El Salvador, has for 35 years worked to increase access to sports, physical education, and recreation programs to raise the competitive level of athletes at the national and international level throughout El Salvador.
ASADESIR, founded in 1994, is the association of wheelchair athletes within INDES, and serves as one of the four associations that compose El Salvador’s Paralympic Committee. In 2013, ASADESIR, with the support of INDES, introduced a monthly Adapted Sports Camps Program for youth with disabilities. The camps are held on the weekends, and bring together up to 60 adolescents with visual, hearing, intellectual and physical disabilities, including wheelchair users, at the INDES Sports Village in a suburb of San Salvador for a three-day Camp experience that promotes their socialization, physical fitness and self-esteem. For more information on INDES and ASADESIR, visit http://www.indes.gob.sv/.

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