People with disabilities have a tough time of it, yet often they don’t realise it, especially if they were born with the disability. But those who lose limbs or vision through accidental injury as an adult will know what they are missing because they have experienced life without a disability. It is these people who find it more difficult to adjust to their new ‘normal’. Playing a sport can help them in many ways.
It gives them something to look forward to. With a disability, many of the usual activities simply cannot be done so a lot is lost from their new life. With all the things that they now can’t do, it makes a big difference to find something they can not only do, but have fun with.
Playing sport gives them a reason for living, for those who would often rather not, especially in those first few months of knowing they will never again have the kind of life they were used to and liked. And knowing that there are people just like you depending on you to play a team sport with them can only be a good thing. It gives a sense of responsibility at a time when you cannot be responsible for much in your life.
It helps them adjust to their lifestyle and make friends. It does this by taking the importance and focus off the disability and placing it on the game and on what they have to do to play it – and maybe, to win it. They think about how they can become better at it and they also see other people who are often worse off than they are making a success of their life through sport. This gives them inspiration to try harder.
It gives them a reason to do the exercises that are needed to keep them fit and able to manage a wheelchair, crutches or that prosthesis. Without a good reason they may often just feel like giving up. When they become more fit, they are healthier and so they feel better. When they feel better they are more likely to do well in their sport and so it goes around.
Playing a sport and entering into competition offers a challenge that many disabled people enjoy. When they win, it makes them feel good about themselves in a way that was missing before. If they win at a high level, they feel they have achieved something that would not have been possible without the disability, so it then becomes more acceptable to them – as well as to other people.
There are many different kinds of sport and it is amazing to see just how many disabled people are able to take part in playing one or more.