Ball Games for Disabled Children
Empowering and educating children in their abilities before they begin to believe they cannot participate in sports is invaluable to the psyche of disabled children. According to the World Health Organization, 15 percent of the world population has a disability of some kind; that includes a large number of children who require nurturing and motivation 1. Disabled children who participate in select activities show that an active, athletic lifestyle is possible. Teaching integrity and instilling values help them believe in themselves and have an optimistic outlook.
For children who can use their legs, kicking balls provide a degree of agility that is good for both able and disabled children. While lying or sitting, children work in pairs to move the ball to one another with their feet. If they are working in teams, they work together to move the ball toward a target by keeping it moving with their feet only. To score, they must get the ball into the target area. Children who are more ambulatory can score points for the team by retrieving the ball and returning it to the kicker. They may be excited to know that players compete in this sport on both national and international levels.
Children who are visually impaired play this ball game on a standard basketball court. The ball is designed to make a noise as it rolls across the floor. For this reason, audience silence is imperative. Strategic patterns on the floor allow the children to determine where they are on the court and help them keep their bearings. Three people on each side of the floor try to score points by rolling the ball to the opposite end of the court. The opposing team tries to keep the ball from crossing the finish line. All players are blindfolded to equalize the odds.
Sitting volleyball requires modification of the court and the rules. A smaller court and a lower net allow physically disabled children to participate in this hard-hitting sport using six players on each team. The game can be further adapted for hearing impaired children with one minor change -- signaling with a red flag rather than a whistle. The player is only allowed to touch the opponent’s court with his hand; any other part of the body is not allowed, and he must keep his buttocks on the floor at all times.
Played with a group of children, this cooperative game allows disabled children to play with able children and feel a part of a mainstreamed group. The ball is passed in one direction, and when a bell -- or some other sound -- rings, the ball is passed in the opposite direction. For hearing impaired children, a visual signal can be substituted for the sound. This game is a fun activity that helps build communication and socialization skills. It can be played by children with varying degrees and types of disabilities.
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