Growing up or even after, were you ever part of picking teams for some athletic contest? Back in the “day” we used to pick teams and some poor kid was last every time. Now it’s a bit more sophisticated like shooting foul shots to see who gets to play but we still know that someone is left out. And then when playing, some people dominate the game more than others. Even if you weren’t the last to be picked or get in a game, you probably noticed or felt for those who were marginalized, didn’t you? I’m sure these experiences soured many of us in regards to team or even individualized sports. Many of us saw how power in sports corrupted some and excluded others.
A major component in AccesSports “playbook,” if you will, is overcoming the exclusivity associated with sport and in trying to help everyone of every ability understand how compelling they are for their athletic accomplishments. Someone who trains hard from never being an athlete to run on a treadmill for a ½ hour at 4 miles an hour is as athletic to us as someone who runs 5 minute miles for a full marathon. In our work, we are always working toward creating, what we call, “The Perfect Game.”
In our pursuit of the perfect game we’ve created dozens of drills and games, obstacle courses, and most recently, our Run for Access ½ Marathon. In all of our endeavors we strive to create situations in which all participants of every ability are challenged fully, are valued equally, have fun, and get into better function and conditioning. Our In School program in Boston Public schools is rich with experiences which make students formerly on sidelines into superstars. They understand themselves to be compelling athletes after are sessions. The same holds true for our camps in Florida in which we test protocols and drills. Our obstacle course of last spring was something of a masterpiece as was our soccer tournament. Each athlete was integral to their team’s success.
Our Run for Access and the subsequent AccesSport Challenge are our latest attempt at the perfect game or race. The format seems complex to start but is truly quite simple. We ask everyone to give us a distance that will take at least 2 hours and then run or walk it. Most typically abled people will run a ½ marathon. Many living with significant challenges run/walk a mile and a half up to 6 miles. But everyone starts at a time which will enable all to end within a ½ hour of each other. We also all run/walk on the same 1.5 mile loop. We encourage each other and have fun with each other while running our unique distance.
In many ways, this is the perfect race. The two hour minimum ensures that everyone has to train and therefore is a true trained athlete. The cheering is the same for the world champions on our course as it is for those who live in relative obscurity training with us on a weekly basis.
We hope you will follow our lead and find that compelling athlete inside you. You may or may not have been left out before. Here, if you train, you are valued and you will find a home.