University of Central Oklahoma's Adventure Therapy Introduces Veterans to Paralympic Sport

Oct. 24, 2008, 3:27 p.m. (ET)
The University of Central Oklahoma Wellness Center, an official U.S. Paralympic Training Site, hosts injured service members every other week for a new program called Adventure Therapy. Its aim is to introduce Paralympic sport and to encourage active lifestyles to those who participate.

On Oct. 22, service members were introduced to the sport of indoor archery. Previous sessions have included sitting volleyball, low ropes course and judo.

Participants included members from the Mid-America Chapter of the Paralyzed Veterans of America, the Oklahoma City Veterans Affairs Medical Center, and the Warriors Transition Unit from Fort Sill in Lawton.

Service members involved with Adventure Therapy have a wide range of injuries, including traumatic brain injuries, back and knee injuries, and post-traumatic brain disorders.

"We are pleased to partner with these organizations in order to provide this much needed service," said Katrina Shaklee, Director of Sport Performance at the UCO Wellness Center. "These men and women have expressed a desire to go beyond ordinary types of rehabilitation therapy and we are hoping to fill that void and demonstrate that there are many opportunities awaiting our wounded warriors."

UCO Adventure Therapy started in September 2008 and was made possible by the U.S. Olympic Committee's Olympic Opportunity grant program. UCO received a $25,000 to create a community-based Paralympic program for injured service members.

UCO was one of 24 organizations that received the Olympic Opportunity grant.The U.S. Olympic Committee received 120 applications for the coveted grant.

"The U.S. Olympic Committee is proud to support community-based initiatives that help individuals with disabilities live healthy, active lives," said Charlie Huebner, U.S. Olympic Committee Chief of Paralympics.  "We are so pleased that the Olympic Opportunity Fund will help The University of Central Oklahoma's Adventure Therapy program offer even more sports and physical activity opportunities to severely injured service members right in their own community."

UCO's Adventure Therapy has opened doors for injured Oklahoma service members. As an introduction to Paralympic sport, the goal is to raise interest in those who come to a session.

"The service members really started to get into it with the instructors on the techniques of the sports," said Elliot Blake, Coordinator for Sitting Volleyball at the UCO Wellness Center and organizer for Adventure Therapy. "Our participants are thankful for the opportunity to experience the Olympic and Paralympic sports, and some are curious on the level of effort necessary to become an 'elite' athlete."

The next Adventure Therapy session will introduce the participants to fencing. The session is tentatively scheduled for November 5 at Redlands Fencing in Oklahoma City. Other upcoming sessions include soccer on December 3 and rowing on December 17.

For more information on Adventure Therapy, contact Elliot Blake at (405) 974-3158.