7 Adaptive-Activities to Get You Out of Your Comfort Zone

If you’re on the hunt for new hobbies for people with disabilities, you’ve come to the right place. 

Just because you have unique physical or mental challenges doesn’t mean you can’t participate in active or physically-cahallenging activities—that’s why at No Barriers, we make it a priority to create opportunities to experience exciting, fun, and safe adapted activities for special needs. 

After all, your comfort zone should be stretched and extended, regardless if you’re on wheels, are missing a limb, or have trouble seeing or hearing. Although getting out of your comfort zone can be intimidating and scary, it can grow in ways you may not have thought of.  

a woman in a grit wheelchair participating in physical activities for special needs students

Here are some of our favorite adapted activities for special needs that can help get you out of your comfort zone in a positive way. Keep reading to find some of the best adaptive activities to try!

7 adapted activities for special needs to try ASAP

1. Hiking

Hiking trails can range from intermediate levels to extreme, so it is often easy to find something that fits your needs almost anywhere! Before you go, look and see if your hiking trail is dirt or paved to know how easy it will be to access and traverse. You’ll want to not only pay attention to mileage, but elevation, too. 

Anyone can tackle wheelchair hiking with the right equipment! For example, the GRIT Freedom Chair comes with mountain bike tires to help you hike trails of various difficulty levels. If you have limited arm movement, you might look into the Trailrider, a single-wheeled piece of equipment that is propelled by the help of friends in the front and back.

Bring enough water and snacks!!!

Pro tip: Get your own America the Beautiful Access Pass! Otherwise known as the  National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Pass, this is a free lifetime pass available to US citizens who have a disability.

a small boy with no sight hiking and participating in physical activities for special needs students

2. Basketball

Even if you have spina bifida, birth defects, cerebral palsy, amputations, or paralysis due to an accident, there’s a wheelchair basketball league out there for you. Playing a team sport like basketball is a great way to get involved in a new community and build a Rope Team. Typically, adaptive basketball is played in wheelchairs on a regular hard gym floor. Although it may not been seen as as physically taxing as standard basketball, playing adaptive basketball takes strong cardiovascular health. It is a no contact sport, but it can be pretty rough and physically exhausting—that’s why it’s one of our favorite physical activities for students (and people) with special needs!

You can find a team near you on the National Wheelchair Basketball Association website.

3. Baking

a young man without a left leg walking proudly and participating in physical activities for special needs students

We are super inspired by the story of Christine Ha who appeared on the Fox Television show Master Chef. 

“Though the final plating of her dishes would not have been out of place in a restaurant, the steps to prepare them were noticeably different. For starters, Ha — who also goes by the moniker The Blind Cook — used a guide and a walking stick to get around on stage. And when it came to judging the quality of her ingredients, she had to rely on her other senses more than most chefs do. Still, her technique — and her dish of Vietnamese catfish — wowed the judges, and she ended up winning the entire season of the show.” —NPR

Whether you’re baking in your own home, or going to a baking class, it is helpful to know what kinds of adaptive equipment is out there. Will the kitchen have lower countertops (essential when it’s cooking hobbies for someone in a wheelchair)? Do you have all of the ingredients necessary? Is there adequate lighting?

There are many kitchen tools that can make cooking, baking, and food prep better adapted activities for special needs, from one-handed cutting boards to devices that hold bottles of liquids and pour them out for you. Knowing the height of the countertop you will be working at is also helpful, especially when going outside of your home.

Save us a taste?

4. Gardening

Whether you have a big garden outside or a few potted plants on your kitchen table, gardening can be one of the best adaptive activities to try. When gardening outside, it is helpful to have tools such as a knee pad or sitting pad, so that you can comfortably kneel or sit on the ground to work in the dirt. 

Some of the most effective tactics for adaptive gardening include raised beds, planting perennials rather than annuals, utilizing soaker hoses, and utilizing extendable tools built specifically for adaptive gardening.

Having indoor plants can be beneficial because they help filter the air inside of your house as well! As long as you have an area inside where they can get some sunlight and you provide them with water as often as the specific plant needs, your plants—like you—should thrive!

5. Fishing

nerissa cannon going kayaking and participating in physical activities for special needs students

Whether it’s loss of limb function or mobility, specialized fishing rods can help you participate in adaptive fishing and reel in your catch! 

Fishing is a wonderful activity for those who have a disability because there are many places to fish, from a nearby pond to a lake out in the countryside. Since fishing is not usually a high energy sport, it is a great way to do something fun while getting to enjoy the peaceful outdoors.

You can find more than 40 Disabled Sports USA chapters across that country that offer fishing to adults and youth with disabilities.

6. Bowling

Did you know that adaptive bowling was first addressed towards the end of World War II, when injured veterans, many who had amputations, returned home? Assistive technology was created to help veterans return to bowling, even if they were no longer able to bowl the same way as prior to their deployment.

Since it’s been around awhile, most bowling centers often have different tools to use to help make bowling one of the best physical activities for students with special needs. Be sure to check with your local bowling alley to make sure they have bowling ramps, used to guide and release the ball onto the bowling alley, which are especially helpful if you are in a wheelchair. You might even find a bowling alley that has bowling ball adaptations like grips (because those three little holes are pretty pesky).

We’ll happily support you if you keep the bumpers up—we’re right there with you! 

two men with disabilities climbing a rock wall and participating in physical activities for special needs students

7. The No Barriers Summit

The No Barriers Summit is a perfect place for people of all abilities to come together and push their comfort zones in a supportive, encouraging environment.

The Summit is for people from all walks of life with all types of challenges—physical, mental, invisible. Veterans, teachers, coaches, parents, caregivers, individuals with disabilities, educators, and anyone willing to take part in a variety of experiential activities, define their purpose, and give their best back to the world.

All the activities offered are fully adaptive and aimed to help crush barriers and accomplish something you thought you never could, from rock climbing to yoga and more.

This annual gathering is a great place to get involved in a community of people who are all dedicated to overcoming adversity. No Barriers Summit strives to unleash your fullest potential by giving you the tools and knowledge to create a positive change in yourself and the community.

Attend the next No Barriers Summit in San Francisco on September 18, 2020

Find adapted activities for special needs to push your comfort zone!

hiking for physical activities for special needs students

Get creative in the ways that you challenge yourself to get out of your comfort zone and pursue new hobbies. From adaptive sports to the No Barriers Summit, there are endless fun activities for people with disabilities of all ages. Through these activities, you may have the opportunity to meet other people similar to you and find new hobbies that you love! 

Although your comfort zone is comfortable, it can also be extremely static and in order to grow, it is important to challenge yourself mentally and physically. No Barriers wants to help you grow, and the No Barriers Summit is a great place to do that thanks to its inclusive workshops and speakers. There are many adapted activities for special needs and to fulfill you—let these activities have a strong, positive impact on your attitude toward life!

Attend the next No Barriers Summit in San Francisco on September 18, 2020

November 22, 2019
No Barriers

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