From the earliest histories we find sports playing a prominent role in every culture. We are all familiar with the Olympics dating back to ancient Greece and the emphasis on the rewarding of athletic accomplishment. For the visually impaired, formalized blind sports competitions are a relatively new phenomenon. With the founding of USABA (United States Association of Blind Athletes) in 1976; IBSA (International Blind Sports Association) in 1981; and the growth of the Paralympic games, blind sports have afforded the visually impaired opportunities to compete against other blind athletes from around the world. Many sports such as swimming, track & field and skiing have adaptations that allow athletes to compete against sighted contestants; while sports such as goalball were created specifically for the blind.
Why are sports important to the visually impaired? First there are the physical reasons. The more active a person is the healthier they are. The regular involvement in physical activities helps with all aspects of a persons fitness. We all need to get off the couch and stay in shape.
Secondly, there is personal development. The discipline one gains from being involved in sports translates into life skills that help in the work place and in ones personal life. As an athlete competes at higher levels the commitment to practice and fitness training takes lots of discipline. The desire of any athlete is to compete and improve while striving to excel-all attributes of a successful person.
Finally, there are the social interaction skills which one learns from sports. Being part of a team, working with others to achieve a goal, encouraging teammates when they are down or being encouraged when needed are all things we can learn from sports. Sports can be entertaining to the spectator; and to the athlete they can be character forming.
On a personal note I found sports to be a way to stay involved with both of my children. I coached and cheered them every step of the way. Whether it was the soccer field or the goalball court we shared the joys of victory and the frustrations of defeat. Their accomplishments on the field of play mattered little; that we had a common interest has given us memories that will last a lifetime.
Do you play sports? Have you stopped due to vision loss? Want to get back into the game? If you answered yes to these questions, then I invite you to the Georgia Blind Sports Association first annual overnight weekend camp. It will be held on September 20-22 at Camp Twin Lakes in Winder, Georgia. This will be a specialized 3 day / 2night camp focused on adaptive sports for the visually impaired.
We welcome adults and youths (7th grade and older) to come join us and be exposed to new recreational opportunities. Introduction to sporting activities such as Archery, Ropes/Climbing, Fishing, Canoeing/Kayaking, Biking and Swimming. But some sports offered are subject to change and limited transportation is available. Cost is $50.00 per student and $75.00 per adult. Some scholarships are available.