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The State Hornet

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The student news site of Sacramento State University

The State Hornet

The student news site of Sacramento State University

The State Hornet

Student news without fear or favor

All for inclusivity, Rec Therapy for all

Opportunities for adaptive sports at The WELL
Sacramento+State+students+practice+drills+on+court+four+inside+The+WELL+during+the+recreational+therapy+program+Thursday%2C+Sept.+28%2C+2023.+The+recreational+therapy+program+was+started+in+2013+and+reintroduced+to+Sac+State+in+2020.
Madelaine Church
Sacramento State students practice drills on court four inside The WELL during the recreational therapy program Thursday, Sept. 28, 2023. The recreational therapy program was started in 2013 and reintroduced to Sac State in 2020.

As Alivia Elder-Gok’s belief in inclusivity and adaptive recreational sports within The WELL began, she was determined to have more sports activities at Sac State.

Elder-Gok, recreational therapist through The WELL, shared her involvement in getting an inclusive recreational therapy program on campus. Elder-Gok started inquiring about a recreational therapy program during her undergrad at Sac State in 2013.

The Recreational Therapy Program was first welcomed in 2013 as the All-In Recreation Program before it was reintroduced under its current name in 2020.

“I believed that The WELL needed to have inclusive activities and sports,” Elder-Gok said.

Elder-Gok shared how she started by building a partnership with City of Sacramento’s Access Leisure, which was able to provide sporting equipment to host Inclusive Sports such as wheelchair basketball, wheelchair tennis and wheelchair rugby.

Access Leisure’s mission is to optimize quality of life and provide enhanced life experiences to people with disabilities through accessible recreation programs and services.

These events hosted in collaboration with Access Leisure became known as Inclusive Sports. These Inclusive Sports clinics allow disabled students on our campus to enjoy an activity catering to their needs while allowing non-disabled students to learn about Inclusive Sports.

Nelly Quiroz-Perez, student supervisor for the Recreational Therapy department shared how she started as a volunteer through The WELL.

“I always wanted a career in helping people, but I never saw myself working behind a desk or as a nurse or a doctor,” Quiroz-Perez said. “So it was an introduction to recreational therapy and I really enjoyed it just because I had always been interested in doing a helping career.”

The program hosted an Inclusive Sports clinic focused on wheelchair tennis on Wednesday, Oct. 3. Within the clinic, students could learn how to use and propel sports wheelchairs and practice hitting tennis balls over a net.

“The partnership between Access Leisure and Sacramento State allows the opportunity for leaders within the community to bring awareness and inclusion between students of all abilities,” Alberto Gutierrez, a recreation leader for Access Leisure said.

Gutierrez made sure all participants in the event were enjoying themselves as he led participants through different tennis related tasks. Alongside other Rec Therapy attendees, he taught students and student volunteers modified techniques on how adding adaptations into a sport or game can make the setting around them a more inclusive environment.

“Our main goals are to create an inclusive environment while giving all individuals a better quality of life. It is important to create opportunities for students who have never experienced adaptive sports to have a good idea for future awareness,” Gutierrez said.

The faces of students who attended the wheelchair tennis event were filled with joy as tennis balls flew through part of the gym box at The WELL. A particular first-year student took it upon himself to help lead mini activities for other students.

“The rec therapy department and adaptive sports are a good way to get people from all abilities involved,” Bassem Mansour, first year marketing major said.

Another Inclusive Sports clinic was held on Oct. 10 within The WELL’s gym box. The focus this time was wheelchair basketball. Participants and student volunteers learned how to pick up, dribble and shoot a basketball from a wheelchair.

I am disabled and I’ve never really gotten a chance to be competitive in sports before, so being able to play sports in a chair really made me realize that I am competitive and I have a lot of fun with it.

— Samantha Lee

Lee, along with the rest of the participants, raced down the court practicing drills and shooting baskets. Laughter filled the gym box as participants and volunteers tried getting the ball in the hoop.

“I find inclusive recreation sports to be super fun and inviting and have found it to be a great way to meet people and see a new side to recreational therapy that is fun,” Reagan O’Connell, first year environmental studies major said.
Aside from the physical aspect of wellness, the Rec Therapy program offers many opportunities for socializing and promotes an inclusive environment with its wellness garden and horticultural therapy services.

Services offered through the Rec Therapy Program focus on the seven different areas of wellness: physical, intellectual, emotional, social, spiritual, career-financial and environmental. Services are offered either in a group setting or one-on-one basis.

For more information about recreational therapy, Inclusive Sports and The WELLness garden, click here.

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About the Contributor
Christa Ison, DEI Staffer
(she/her) Christa Ison is a senior transfer student from American River College, majoring in journalism. Returning to The State Hornet, her goal is to advocate and become a voice for the disabled community.
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