The University of Colorado Recreation Center is making significant advances in the way of creating a universal community and activity hub for its diverse student population.
Through their inclusive recreation initiative, the university has been able to host adapted events and programs catering to students with mobility or visual impairments, as well as a myriad of other specific needs.
Among their adaptive programming, the university counts adaptive strength training equipment, ice sleds and walkers for adaptive ice skating and Zumba taught in American Sign Language. The center has also staged events to welcome veterans and the LGBTQ community.
Mike McNeil, access coordinator for Colorado’s disability services told the Daily Camera, “A lot of students who come here want to snowboard, go rock climbing, they want to kayak, they want to mountain bike.”
Boulder has a strong community culture of engaging in outdoor adventure sports, and the university wants to provide anyone who wants to participate with the means to do so.
The recreation staff at CU underwent additional training with Paradox Sports, a nonprofit organization that specializes in adaptive climbing programs, and partners with the organization to host climbing events for students with disabilities.
Associate director of programs at the CU rec center Nicole LaRocque says the events are not about mass appeal, but rather aim to create a positive and personal experience for participants.
“It's about serving those that we may not be serving otherwise, or trying to meet their specific needs while educating and creating a welcoming environment,” said LaRocque.
Vijay Viswanathan, a student who regularly takes advantage of the adaptive skiing, climbing and mountain biking opportunities at CU, said, “They're really going above and beyond to enable students and faculty with disabilities to use the equipment the facility to the fullest extent possible.”