Huntingdon News

October 31, 2013
For immediate release:

Huntingdon College
News Release

Huntingdon launches innovative Disability Sport Network

DSPN Montgomery, Ala.—The Huntingdon College Disability Sport Network (HC-DSPN) will offer a two-day training workshop, conducted by BlazeSports America, Friday–Saturday, November 1–2, as the College launches programs for training and working with disability sport programs and wheelchair athletes.  At the completion of the training, participants will be awarded Certified Disability Sport Specialist (CDSS) credentials, the first such certification to be awarded in the state of Alabama.  A public reception Saturday, November 2, at 4:00 p.m. in the Leo J. Drum Jr. Theater, Cloverdale Campus, will celebrate the culmination of the first training session and the launch of the Huntingdon DSPN, whose purpose is two-fold: creating adapted sport opportunities that allow young adults and children who may not be able to participate in sport at their schools because of physical impairment to realize their potential through sport participation; and training physical educators, coaches, teachers, and others to work with individuals who have physical impairments in sport programs.

HC-DSPN serves youth and young adults with physical disabilities, ages 6–21, in the River Region who have the desire to participate in sport and adapted activity, according to Dr. Lisa Olenik Dorman, chair of the Huntingdon Sport Science and Physical Education programs.  Dorman developed the program and has worked to see it come to fruition. With regard to sport participation, the program's goal is to teach prerequisite sport skills that will allow the youth to continue lifelong participation in organized sport or physical activities. The intent is that through participation in activities such as wheelchair basketball and wheelchair tennis participants will develop the confidence, work ethic, and leadership skills learned through team sports.  

Workshop participants are professionals—coaches, volunteers, teachers, and others—who work with individuals who have physical impairments.  CDSS certification signifies the ability to provide safe, effective disability sport programming and knowledge of the latest research in the field, and establishes these professionals as leaders in disability sport.  The Certified Disability Sport Specialist training was developed by Blaze Sports America to address the need for better-trained coaches, teachers, and personnel when working in sport with individuals who have disabilities.

HC-DSPN was given a grant from the Alabama Commission on Higher Education (ACHE) for the purpose of developing after-school opportunities for youth who have physical impairments to participate in sport—specifically, wheelchair basketball, wheelchair tennis, and wheelchair track and field; and to train and equip educators across the state to work with this underserved population.  The after-school programs are open to students from any public or private school in the area whose physical impairments preclude them from participation in organized school-sponsored sports, but whose cognitive abilities allow them to master the necessary skills.  Youth may enroll at any time—the program is free.  A doctor's release is required for participation.  The wheelchair basketball team is already practicing three days each week in preparation for a tournament at the Lakeshore Foundation in January 2014. Huntingdon's DSPN teams will be known as the Red Wings.

Huntingdon alumni, students and student-athletes are volunteering as coaches for the DSPN teams. Together, the coaches developed this mission statement: "In the DSPN, we believe that the true spirit of sport participation is Energy, Peace, Freedom, and Awareness: the energy to participate both physically and mentally; the peace gained with self-acceptance and self-confidence; the freedom to choose how you will participate; and the awareness that participation is a gift, and made more valuable when shared with others."

"Our HC students and DSPN athletes will tell you that disability often takes place in the environment when someone with an impairment is required to participate in an activity that requires 'normal body movement,'" said Dorman.  "What is 'normal' in wheelchair basketball is that students with often disabling conditions such as cerebral palsy, spina bifida, Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis, or amputation, are no longer disabled. Instead they are learning sport skills in order to participate in sports such as wheelchair basketball, wheelchair tennis and wheelchair track and field.  In addition to sport skill development, through this participation they are developing those positive institutionalized values attributed to sport, such as teamwork, sportsmanship, playing fairly and treating your opponent in the same way you would wish to be treated."

Dorman said the HC-DSPN will also  develop a parent education curriculum, "allowing parents to access some of the educational, spiritual, and community resources related to living well with an impairment in a world seemingly created for the able-bodied."

Members of the Red Wings will be present at the reception for the completion of the CDSS certification and will hand the certificates to the program participants.  Red Wings and workshop participants represent more than 10 area schools. 

Huntingdon College, grounded in the Judeo-Christian tradition of the United Methodist Church, is committed to nurturing growth in faith, wisdom, and service and to graduating individuals prepared to succeed in a rapidly changing world. Founded in 1854, Huntingdon is a coeducational liberal arts college. Ranked in the top tier of regional colleges by U.S. News and World Report and consistently listed in the Princeton Review's "The Best Colleges: Region by Region," Huntingdon has for three years been recognized on the President's Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.  Washington Monthly, which ranks colleges on the basis of their contributions to the public good, places Huntingdon in the top 20% of 352 baccalaureate colleges.

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Su Ofe
Associate Vice President for
Communications and Marketing
Office: (334) 833-4515
Cell: (334) 324-6591


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