Monday, October 27, 2008

Paralympics Academy gets kids ready for competitive sports

From KXLY-TV in Washington State:

SPOKANE, Wash. -- It was a special day for some special kids on Saturday as the annual Paralympic Academy kicked off in Spokane.
The program is organized through St. Luke's Children's hospital and it is designed to help kids with disabilities get involved in competitive sports.

The academy is the only program of its kind in the United States and team participants are actually being coached by athletes that competed at the Paralympics in Beijing. The St. Luke's program teaches kids that playing in competitive sports is not out of reach.

"When I first started I didn't know much about the para Olympics and so saint Luke's introduced all that to me," participant Chelsea McClammer said.

McClammer placed eighth in the world at this year's Paralympics games in Beijing.

"I competed in the bird's-nest," McClammer said. "I competed in track and there was a huge crowd, 91,000 people and its just a great experience."

McClammer is just one example of what sports can do for kids young and old. Team St. Luke's's says sports have the same positive impact for kids without disabilities as it does for kids who have them.

"We all know sports has a huge impact on just development teaching life skills and how to face challenges, how to set goals, how to handle defeat," Theresa Skinner of team St. Luke's's said.

The goal is to set up a future where the possibilities are limitless.

"These are kids that have the potential someday to perhaps compete in the Paraolympics," Skinner said.

Competing on a team will also help make the future for these kids a lot better.

"I know sports helped me a lot and I know there lives will improve to when they start sports," McClammer said.