Friday, November 12, 2010

Kentucky high school sports competitions add track and field events for wheelchair-using athletes

From WBKO:

Beginning in 2011, Kentucky’s wheelchair bound student-athletes will have an opportunity to test their skills at KHSAA track and field events. The KHSAA Board of Control has given approval for the addition of two events, the 400 meter race and the shot put, to KHSAA sanctioned track and field meets for the 2010-11 spring track and field season.

The KHSAA and the American Association of Adapted Sports Programs (AAASP) will work together to implement the new events. The AAASP works in partnership with education agencies in the U.S. to establish policies, and procedures in interscholastic adapted sports for students with physical disabilities to enhance educational outcomes. The activities used by the AAASP have a foundation in Paralympic sports, and have been developed for student-athletes based on their functional ability.

Students are encouraged to participate in the regular season with scores reported to the AAASP where they are tracked and compiled. Students could then qualify for the two events at the state level. Both adaptive events will be featured as exhibitions at the 2011 KHSAA State Track and Field Meet at Owsley Frazier Park in Louisville and, if successful, could be a permanent addition to the games. The AAASP will conduct the events and deliver medals to the winners but team points will not be scored for any school through those events.

If there is sufficient interest in the program more events could be added in the future, with the ultimate hope of a team championship for adapted teams. A benefit of the partnership with the AAASP is training assistance for coaches and officials, as well as information on how to implement and grow the sport for a new segment of student-athletes.

“We utilize a lot of resources in support of our position that participation in sports is a tremendous asset to the high school aged student. I am glad we will be able to start offering opportunities for those students with physical disabilities and evaluate it for future expansion,” said KHSAA Commissioner Julian Tackett. “Other states with much larger population bases have been able to successfully add programs and with the help of AAASP, we hope to be able to gauge the level of interest in more opportunities and our ability to accommodate that interest, both from a financial and operational standpoint. We are excited about the chance to partner to help more of Kentucky's youth.”