National Disability Sports Alliance. (Organizational Spotlight)

Article excerpt

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. …