Adaptive Sports Programs for Children with Disabilities

From ballet to cheerleading, to baseball and sled hockey, children with physical disabilities can enjoy the sports they love, all while increasing independence, developing self-esteem, and growing self-confidence. Many adaptive sport programs are available in Philadelphia and the surrounding region, while others are offered nationwide. Explore the list of sports and recreational activities, and always remember to consult your child’s pediatrician for clearance. Contact us at adaptivesports@email.chop.edu to learn more about adaptive sports programs that might be an option for your child.

Ballet — Philadelphia Studio Ballet

Classes are separated into several divisions. Classes are held at a frequency that is appropriate for each level and age group. Children will be registered into specific classes based on age and past training. Learn more about the Philadelphia Studio Ballet.

Contact information

339-345 W. Lancaster Avenue, Haverford PA
610-525-7151
info@philadelphiastudioballet.com

Baseball — Camden County NJ Miracle League

The Camden County NJ Miracle League (CCNJML) provides people with disabilities a chance to play America’s favorite pastime — baseball!

Contact information

Arthur Aston
856-495-3080

Basketball — Katie’s Komets

Katie’s Komets is a co-ed wheelchair basketball team for kids with physical disabilities, from elementary school through high school.

Contact information

610-489-4569
info@katieskomets.org

Biking — iCan Shine

iCan Shine is an international charitable nonprofit organization. With collaboration with local organizations and individuals, they conduct over 100 five-day iCan Bike programs in 32 States and four Provinces in Canada, serving nearly 3,000 people with disabilities each year.

Contact information

Pennsylvania: Matt and Kathryn
icanbikepa@gmail.com

New Jersey: Karen Weidner
856-216-2127
karenw@camdencounty.com

Cheerleading

South Jersey Storm Twisters

  • Any age
  • No restrictions
  • Must attend tryouts before commitment
  • Typically on Monday nights, optional Thursday night available
  • Sewell, NJ
  • Phone: 856-401-8111

TSC All Stars

  • Special needs cheerleading team
  • Any age
  • Practice on Fridays
  • Must be able to follow commands
  • Delaware County, PA
  • Email: gscallstars@gmail.com

East Coast Nitros

  • Based on interest
  • No ongoing team
  • Typically 5-6 people required
  • Phone: 302-285-3222

BYC SPIRIT — Special Needs Cheerleading Squad

  • Open to all children/young adults with mild to moderate physical and/or cognitive abilities
  • Registration is free
  • BYCspirit@gmail.com

Fitness Programs

FitMe

FitMe at VanDuraFit is a small group fitness instruction for children and teens with special needs. Led by a pediatric physical therapist, groups of up to three individuals will participate in strength, endurance and flexibility activities incorporating coordination, balance, socialization and fun.

Individual fitness classes are also available; please contact the instructor for more information. For questions, comments, and/or to schedule the initial consultation, please email Erin at: fitmeclass@gmai.com.

West Chester University: Department of Kinesiology

The Adapted Physical Activity Wednesday Night Program

The APA Wednesday Night Program has been a mainstay at West Chester University for 30 years. The program runs for 10 weeks in both the gym and pool. The fall semester focuses on adapted sport while the spring semester focuses on adapted physical education and adapted swimming.

CampAbilitiesPA@WCU

WCU provides a developmental sports program for school-age children who have visual impairments including blindness or low vision. PEID minors teach activities such as tandem biking, goalball, beep baseball, swimming, triathlon, and track and field over the Memorial Day Weekend.

Adapted Lifetime Fitness Program

The goal of the Adapted Lifetime Fitness Program is to help adults with cognitive disabilities improve their cardiovascular endurance, muscular strength, flexibility and group comradery. This program also has a nutrition component in which WCU nutrition majors and faculty develop nutrition education programming. This is a joint program between the APA minors, exercise science minors and nutrition minors.

Contact information

Dr. Monica Lepore
610-436-2516
mlepore@wcupa.edu

Horseback riding

Lord Stirling TRAILS Program
256 S. Maple Avenue, Basking Ridge, NJ

  • Must be a resident of Somerset County, NJ
  • Offers adaptive horseback riding instruction for children and adults with developmental disabilities
  • Must be 9 years and older
  • Programs offered in fall and spring
  • Phone: 908-526-5650

Shadow Equestrian

  • Certified by PATH international
  • Ages 2-12 or 100 pounds
  • Phone: 856-694-4034
  • Email: shawdoweq@verixon.net

Rein Dancer
31 Archertown Road, New Egypt NJ

  • PATH Certified
  • Phone: 609-532-5012 or 609-752-0900

Horse Sense Therapeutic Riding
145 Easy Street, Howell NJ

  • Any diagnosis
  • Age depends on medical provider, prefer MD approval to start
  • Phone: 732-910-7855

Special Strides
118 Federal Road, Monroe, NJ

  • Multi-disciplinary therapy clinic and equine center providing equine assisted activities and therapy
  • Facility offers a variety of options including PT, OT, occupational health, mental health, adaptive horseback riding, adaptive carriage driving, experiential learning and equine facilitated learning
  • Phone: 732-446-0945

Sled hockey 

Virtua Wings of Steel, Voorhees, NJ

Sled hockey is an adaptive sport that allows people with physical disabilities to skate and play hockey. Virtua Wings of Steel is part of the Atlantic Sled Hockey League (ASHL), which is made up of six teams.

Contact information

Tom Brake
856-261-8731
sledhockey1@comcast.net

Vineland Sled Stars, Sewell, NJ

Provides an opportunity for players who would never have the chance to play ice hockey due to a physical disability. Players have a variety of physical challenges, including cerebral palsy, amputations, spinal cord injuries and various muscle diseases. Learn more about Vineland Sled Stars.

Contact information

Lisa Oates
856-906-4194
loates@verizon.net

Woodbridge Warriors, Woodbridge, NJ

The Warriors Sled Hockey Team provides the opportunity to play hockey to those with physical disabilities. Our program creates friendships and socialization skills for our players and a support system for our families.

Contact information

Bruce Kessler
732-586-0520
bjkes@optonline.net

Atlantic Hammerheads, NE Philadelphia, PA

Contact information

Bill Mahoney
mahoneywp@comcast.net

Delaware Sled Snipers, Newark, DE

The Snipers invite anyone with a physical disability to come to a practice and learn. The team consists of youth from 6 years of age to 20+. Typically, the league goes up to the age of 18, but depending on disability and players' ability, teams are able to receive waivers for older players. Visit the schedule page for practice and game times.

Contact information

Tammy DeStafney
302-477-9885

Palmyra Sled Hockey Club, Palmyra, PA

The Palmyra Black Knights are youth and adults who have a physical disability limiting their ability to skate in a standing position. Most players (but not all) can propel their manual wheelchair and sit upright with or without back support.

Contact information

Sal Montagna
smontagna@verizon.net

Bennett Blazers, Baltimore, MD

Contact information

Gerry Herman
Herman@kennedykrieger.org

DC Sled Sharks, Arlington, VA

NRH in association with USA Disabled Hockey offers developmental and competitive opportunities for children interested in the exciting sport of sled hockey. The team participates in the Delaware Valley Sled Hockey League. Learn more about DC Sled Sharks.

Contact information

Joan Joyce
Joan.P.Joyce@Medstar.net or coachdutton@gmail.com

WSF New York Sled Rangers, New York, NY

Offers a sled hockey program for youth with physically disabilities ages 5 to 21. The program helps children increase independence, develop self-esteem, and grow their self-confidence through something as simple as playing sports.

Contact information

info@wsfsledrangers.org

Soccer — TOPSoccer

TOPSoccer (The Outreach program for Soccer) is a community-based training and team placement program for young athletes with special needs. The program is designed and administered by US Youth Soccer. TOPSoccer is a modified version of the game of soccer, designed to provide opportunities for special needs children ages 4 to 19. It provides a very affordable opportunity for fitness, fun and building self-esteem. Modifications are made to the game to allow full participation and enjoyment to each child.

Contact information

directory@topsoccer.us

Special Olympics PA — Philadelphia

Special Olympics Pennsylvania provides year-round sports training and athletic competition for children and adults in Philadelphia with intellectual disabilities. Through work in health, education, community building and sports, Special Olympics is addressing inactivity, injustice, intolerance and social isolation by encouraging and empowering people with intellectual disabilities. Programs include: young athletes (an early childhood sports play program), aquatics, gymnastics, athletics (track and field), basketball, bocce, bowling, floor hockey, soccer, softball, tennis and volleyball.

Contact information

Michelle Cordell
215-671-5069
philly@specialolympicspa.org

Sports centers and recreation services

Athletes with Disabilities Network (ADN)

ADN's mission is to promote a better quality of life for people with physical disabilities by creating awareness and offering opportunities to get involved with athletic, recreational and educational activities nationwide. Programs include:

  • Mentoring and Outreach Program
  • SportsAbility Regional Adaptive Sports Program
  • Adaptive Sports Coalition

Contact information

Brandon Holiday, Program Director
267-242-4590
Bholiday@adnpage.org
11 South Harvard Ave
Cherry Hill, NJ 08002

Carousel House Recreation Center

Carousel House is dedicated to providing socialization, recreational, and educational services to persons with disabilities who reside throughout the Philadelphia area. Our primary purpose is to provide a program that contributes in a positive way to the mental, physical, social, cultural and emotional growth and development of persons with disabilities through recreational programs.

Activities include swimming (recreational and instructional), music, dance, athletics, arts and crafts, ceramics, summer day camp, martial arts, and so much more. Special events include bingo parties, social dances with disc jockeys, track meets, picnics, holiday celebrations, athletic tournaments, carnivals and the Carousel Ball.

Contact information

215-685-0160
carouselpa@aol.com

High Expectations — North and Central New Jersey

High Expectations, Inc. provides individuals with developmental disabilities and their families access to athletic, recreational and social activities to supplement their educational and vocational training. Activities have included trips and/or participation at various events, including: Luau, Spring Fling, Movie Night, Craft Night, Game Night, Globetrotters, Knicks, Jackals, Seton Hall Basketball, Trenton Thunder, Rutgers, and more.

Contact information

Diane Wisniewski
973-564-7862
info@highexpectationsinc.org

KidzTri3

KidzTri3 is a premier youth multisport organization whose goal is to inspire and motivate youth through the sport of Triathlon to develop self-confidence, physical fitness, and to lead an active, positive and healthy lifestyle.

PA Center for Adapted Sports

The PA Center for Adapted Sports serves 500 individuals with disabilities annually, including veterans and active duty military personnel. Ranging in age from 4 to 74, 95 percent of the population the center serves has permanent physical disabilities. The center provides specialized equipment and makes adaptations where necessary. Programs include: rowing, cycling, skiing, kayaking, sailing and climbing.

Contact information

Jeff McGinnis
215-765-5118
Jeff.mcginnis@centeronline.com

The Mary Campbell Center, Wilmington, DE

The Children and Youth Program offers unique activities for children with special needs, ages 3 to 21, and their families. The program improves the social and recreational skills of the participants through play, while promoting independence, self-esteem and growth. We strive to promote positive peer interaction, physical development, creative expression, problem solving and teamwork. Programs include: clubs, young tots, swim lessons, Teens Special Olympics, recreational fun days, spring fling and other family events.

Contact information

Karleen O’Brien
302-762-3025, ext. 153
kobrien@marycampbellcenter.org

Swimming — Weisman Children’s Rehab Hospital

Adaptive swim lessons, Marlton, NJ

Weisman Children’s Rehab Hospital continues to add additional sessions to meet the needs of all the families in the community. Children are given the chance to enhance all of their skills in the water while paired with a buddy who will provide one-on-one support throughout the entire session. Swimming lessons are inclusive for children ages 3 to 6 and 7 to 11 and focus on fundamentals of swimming and core muscle building. The program also provides an opportunity for children to socialize with peers while gaining strength and maximizing their swimming potential in a fun, recreational way.

Contact information

Erica Sciolla
856-489-4520 x 251

Wheelchair sports — Magee Rehabilitation Hospital

Wheelchair racing

Magee sponsors members of the wheelchair racing community in local races, including the Philadelphia Marathon, Rothman 8K and Broad Street Run.

Wheelchair rugby

Magee Eagles Quad Rugby is as competitive as it is intense! Players collide, literally, as the teams of four scramble to push a volleyball down a basketball court through their opponents zone and across the goal line.

Wheelchair tennis

Wheelchair tennis is a brilliant adaptation to an incredible game. Almost nothing is changed from the rules of able-bodied Tennis. Athletes use the same courts, racquets, and balls to compete; the only modification is a rule allowing a second bounce before a person in a wheelchair must return the ball.

Contact information

Magee’s Wheelchair Sports Coordinator
215-587-3412
sports@mageerehab.org

Yoga — Yoga Home

Yoga Home offers classes for individuals 16 years and older living with mobility disabilities. Students who do and do not use wheelchairs and students who are verbal and non-verbal are also welcome to join. Individuals who typically require help with transfers and other activities of daily living may benefit from having a caregiver attend class with them to support their process.

Contact information

Kerri Hanlon
484-344-5040
kerri@ouryogahome


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