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National Disability Sports Alliance. (organizational spotlight).

Sports For All

For more than 25 years, the National Disability Sports Alliance (NDSA) has been providing individuals with physical disabilities opportunities to participate in competitive sports, as well as recreation and fitness activities. Historically, the NDSA's primary focus has been on serving individuals with cerebral palsy and survivors of brain injury and stroke. Originally incorporated as the United States Cerebral Palsy Athletic Association, the name was changed in 2001 to reflect the growing number of disability groups represented. The new name also reflects NDSA's mission of providing a national structure for competitive sports among those with a wide range of physically disabling conditions, including muscular dystrophy and multiple sclerosis. Several sports are open to anyone with a diagnosed physical disability.

The organization's motto, "Sports For All," is promoted through numerous programs that allow an athlete, regardless of functional ability, to train and engage in highly competitive sports. To this end, NDSA has established a multilevel competitive system for both wheelchair users and individuals who are ambulatory. Once an appropriate level is determined, the athlete may choose from individual sports--competing against others at the same level--and team sports. This assures the most equitable form of competition. NDSA also has a strong competitive program for youth that uses age groupings in the following sports: bocce, bowling, cycling, equestrian, indoor wheelchair soccer, swimming, soccer and track and field.

The competitive events offered through NDSA have been organized with careful criteria to maximize the true sports nature of the competitions involving individuals with physical disabilities. NDSA holds clinics throughout the US where individuals who wish to serve as competition officials must demonstrate their abilities.

Along with six other national disability sports organizations, NDSA is a Community Based Organization (CBO) member of the United States Olympic Committee, joins such national groups as the YMCA, Jewish Community Centers, the Boys and Girls Club and similar organizations to form the CBO Council.

Since 1978, athletes from NDSA have represented the US in such international competitions as the 1984 International Games for the Disabled and the '88, '92, '96, and 2000 Summer Paralympic Games. NDSA athletes hold numerous world records in cycling, swimming and track and field. NDSA will host the 2005 World Games for Athletes with Cerebral Palsy, a major international event that will bring more than one thousand athletes from 60 countries to the United States.

The NDSA board of directors has begun an aggressive national marketing campaign to reach out to any and all individuals who could benefit from participation in sports, recreation and fitness activities and increase athletic membership, especially among youth. The NDSA firefly believes in the importance of youngsters with disabilities capitalizing on their abilities and potential athletic success.

In 2001, the US Olympic Committee created a new division, the US Paralympics, to manage elite paralympic sport in the US. NDSA has now refocused its efforts to grassroots and youth programs and is even more committed to reaching out to the hundreds of thousands of American youth with physical disabilities who could benefit from participation. Plans are under way to create affiliate programs throughout the country.

NDSA sanctions numerous local and regional events which lead to participation at the national level. The organization's "showcase" annual event is the National Sports Festival For The Disabled. This event serves as the national championships in seven of NDSA's sports. In 2000 the event also hosted the selection trials for the US Paralympic Track and Field Team. The 2002 event will include the Junior Nationals for Wheelchair Sports USA, as well as NDS's junior and adult championships. The Festival will take place June 24-July 1 in New London, Connecticut. (See What's Happening for more details.)

After a quarter of a century, the National Disability Sports Alliance is still working to ensure that there will always be "Sports For All."
For more information, contact:
National Disability Sports Alliance
25 West Independence Way
Kingston, RI 02881
(401) 792- 7130
Web site:
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Publication:The Exceptional Parent
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:May 1, 2002
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