Wheelchair Sports Camp Promotes Higher Education for Veterans

Dec. 4, 2013

Michael T. Hartley, an assistant professor in the UA College of Education, has launched a Sports and Wellness Camp for veterans with spinal cord injuries and diseases through a $50,000 grant from the Paralyzed Veterans of America Educational Foundation.

Funds covered camp, held in October, and travel-related costs for veterans interested in competitive wheelchair sports.

"The UA's Adaptive Athletics program is the most comprehensive collegiate wheelchair-sports program in the country," Hartley said. The program offers five competitive sports teams: men's and women's basketball, tennis, rugby, track and road racing.

In addition to learning about the UA's program, those involved in the camp received an introduction to college life.

Following the camp, UA researchers engaged veterans in a qualitative study to explore their personal concepts of disability and how sports impact their educational goals. A report of the preliminary results was mailed to hospitals and rehabilitation centers across the country. Eight of the 12 camp participants either enrolled in coursework or applied to a college-degree program, he noted.

"Perhaps the most significant result was seeing the benefits of combining adaptive athletics with college-learning activities," Hartley said.

"Most of the participants in the six-month, post-camp correspondence described being creative and proactive in setting material goals for future activities. The camp was a motivating factor in increasing sports activity as well as inspiring camp participants to engage in college learning." 

More information about the UA's Adaptive Athletics program is available online.