HARRISON, Ohio — Thirty kids with physical disabilities had the chance to try adaptive water skiing and kayaking on Saturday in Harrison. For some, it was their very first try at water sports.
Donna Bloemer had a lot to smile about. Her 19-year-old daughter, Katherine, tried water skiing for the first time.
“It's a huge leap of faith to let your child go out in very deep water, but she obviously loved it,” Bloemer said.
Katherine has Rett Syndrome, a rare neurological disorder that affects motor skills and speech.
That didn’t stop her from showing off her skills on the skis.
“Especially during COVID it took away a lot of things that she typically gets to do, and being able to go out outside and to have her safely experience these things was such a blessing for her,” Bloemer said.
That blessing was made possible by the Cincinnati Children’s Be-Well adaptive sports program.
Danny Meyer has helped lead those adaptive sports, including snow skiing, running and even wheelchair basketball.
“You name it, just any sport that you can think of, we'll try it and we'll figure out how to adapt it, to meet the needs of our patients,” Meyer said. “We've gone from one kid to now serving probably over 500 kids throughout the past year or so.”
Cincinnati Children’s reports children with physical disabilities engage in 30% less physical activity than national fitness guidelines suggest.
“I think families underestimate what their kids are able to do, just because they don't have a chance to try it,” Meyer said. “They don't. They're never exposed to it. So when we finally expose it to them, I hear over and over again, ‘I never thought this was possible for my kids. So thank you.’”
Bloemer is grateful her daughter Katherine gets the opportunity to see what’s possible.
“She gets to be a typical kid and she gets to do things,” Bloemer said. “People help her, enable her to be able to reach her fullest potential. And it is just so neat for her.”
To get involved in the program, text BEWELL to 66866 to get signed up for their mailing list.