Being an active member of the broader adaptive sports community is core to Colorado Adaptive Sports Foundation’s mission. We encourage our athletes to get involved in supporting the great work of our sponsors, community partners, and other organizations, and rely on these collaborations to reach as many adaptive athletes and positively impact as many lives as possible. Below are a few key examples of the ways CASF and its members foster community engagement.
Junior Wheelchair Sports Camp
For nearly 30 years, Mary Carpenter (a retired occupational therapist from Children’s Hospital Colorado) has been hosting a sports camp for children with physical disabilities. For one week every the summer, disabled kids from all over Colorado have been given the opportunity to come together to learn and play a variety of different adaptive sports. For many Colorado disabled youth, this was their only opportunity each year to participate in a sports program of any kind. At the end of the week, all these kids would return to their homes and dream of what they would do next year.
Many of the CASF sport programs were initially born out of this camp. Several of the athletes and organizers who would later go on to help create CASF felt it was a tragedy that these kids only had one opportunity a year to play sports together, and decided to partner to build ongoing adaptive team sports programs that kids could participate in year-round.
Today, every CASF-supported sport is a part of the Junior Wheelchair Sports Camp. Several of our adult athletes and coaches spend a week each summer volunteering to help young camp attendees get their start in adaptive sports, and many of our younger members join as participants.
RYLA Plus Leadership Camp
Rotary Youth Leadership Awards/Easter Seals Leadership Camp
In 2013, Colorado Adaptive Sports Foundation collaborated with Easter Seals Colorado and the Denver Rotary Club to develop the first leadership camp of its kind for people with physical disabilities. Using the Rotary Youth Leadership Awards (RYLA) model, a comprehensive program was developed to teach young people with disabilities valuable leadership skills that will help them to excel in both sports and in life. RYLA is an internationally-recognized program created by Rotary International to encourage strong leadership in youth. Young people are chosen for their leadership potential to attend this all-expenses-paid camp, during which they develop and enhance leadership skills through activities conducted in an atmosphere of openness, trust and respect. CASF worked with its partners to plan and develop the curriculum for the initial camp and provides onsite mentorship to camp participants. CASF nominates its top junior athlete candidates as camp attendees and its former camp participants go on to serve as instructors at subsequent camps.
OUTSTANDING COMMUNITY MEMBERS
Jess Markt, International Wheelchair Basketball Programs
Jess Markt, in addition to being the head coach and a player for the Denver Rolling Nuggets and the head coach of the Lady Rolling Nuggets wheelchair basketball teams, works with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and other international organizations to implement wheelchair basketball programs in developing countries around the world. Jess has been traveling to Afghanistan to teach wheelchair basketball since 2009, and seen participation grow from a handful of novice players when he first arrived to a league of nearly 400 men and women in provinces across the country today. Jess is now the head coach of the Afghanistan men’s and women’s national wheelchair basketball teams, and spends two months in the country each year expanding the reach of the game. Jess and the ICRC have also partnered to bring wheelchair basketball programs to India, Palestine, and Cambodia.
“I have known Corey Fairbanks since February 2005 when 9News chose him as a recipient of our “Share the Love” program. Corey was turning heads at that time with his leadership as the Director of Colorado Sled Hockey. These days the heads aren’t just turning, they are listening and taking action. Corey doesn’t merely talk about change, he MAKES change happen.”
Susie Wargin, 9News Sports Anchor