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Memorial Hospital's adaptive sports program raises awareness, hope

When people have a disability, remaining active can sometimes be a challenge. That’s where the Adaptive Sports and Recreation program comes in – it’s part of the Memorial Rehabilitation Institute at Memorial Regional Hospital South in Hollywood.

The program encourages former patients of the rehabilitation program and members of the community with physical disabilities to participate in a variety of adaptive sports. Some of the participants have achieved athletic success. There are two wheelchair basketball teams, and one earned second place at a national wheelchair basketball tournament.

“We have people with spinal cord injuries, traumatic brain injuries, amputation, strokes, or anything that affects their mobility who participate,” said Ray Shipman. “We have a Division 1 and Division 2 basketball team. They practice three times a week.”

The sports program can be very competitive or it can be completely non-competitive. “This is about encouraging people with disabilities to stay fit and stay active with people,” Shipman said. “Sometimes people with disabilities will go into their room and become depressed and feel hopeless. We want to prevent that,” he said. Shipman is an experienced athlete who played college and professional football.

Some of the people involved have had strokes; others have been in car accidents. One man suffered a severe disability following a car accident and now enjoys being a part of the wheelchair basketball program. He began to feel better about his situation and also became a very good player.

Some of the other sports include hand cycling, adaptive Scuba diving and adaptive golf. On Fridays, there is an adaptive fitness program that includes calisthenics. “We want to increase the mobility of our patients,” Shipman said.

The programs are offered at TY Park and Markham Park and other locations.

“We want to create a positive atmosphere for everyone involved,” he said.

Adaptive Sports will hold a special event known as the 3rd Annual Adaptive Sports Expo at Markham Park in Sunrise on March 25 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. About 100 people have been a part of the program and Shipman said he would like to see more take part. There will be a variety of sports and exercises for people who have suffered strokes, lost the use of limbs and are coping with traumatic brain and spinal cord injuries. Along with other activities, there will be wheelchair basketball, adaptive soccer, hand cycling, disc golf, fishing and adaptive sailing.

David Volz
David Volz
David Volz has been a reporter for Hollywood Gazette since 2011 and has worked for numerous community news publications throughout South Florida over the past two decades including the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, Miami Herald and South Florida Business Journal. He is a Professor in the Business department at Broward College and the editor of the Coral Springs Connection, an online community news website. He covers city government, schools, sports events, cultural activities, faith groups and workplaces.

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