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Turning Disability Into Ability

As part of our goal to make the SBR.ph Tri Series an inclusive race series, we’re working with TW SPORTS this 2020 season to promote sports participation among children with special needs by implementing a specialized training program to prepare and train them for the Aquaman Aquathlon. Read on for an update on their progress.

Sports has proven to increase the overall quality of life in children. Children with special needs though have challenges that result in lower sport participation rate. Mainstream sports and most team sports can be challenging as it requires too much cognitive application, communication, and social interaction. Environmental barriers contribute to struggles in generalization resulting in a low level of physical activity and sports participation.

As occupational therapists working with children with special needs, we help and guide them to manage their behaviors and skills in order for them to do and perform things independently. We want them to experience activities and events that they would not be able to usually participate in such as sports events or competition.

As clinicians who practice and provide aquatic therapy for children with special needs, we saw how our students loved the water and learned to perform skills in the pool. We saw them from having a hard time blowing bubbles to performing swim drills and strokes such as freestyle and backstroke on their own. We saw the progress and the enjoyment from the kids when doing aqua therapy. Then we thought that maybe we can provide them extra and challenging activities apart from swimming in the form of another sport.

As therapists who join triathlons, marathons and trail run’s, we thought that running is a sport that some people do not consider participating in. Because of this, we then decide that maybe we can let our students try both swimming and running. This is why our team designed a program for our students to train, participate and enjoy both sports together with other kids with special needs.

Thus, TW Sports was founded by Teacher Carlo (an SBR.ph Aquathlete, Duathlete, and Triathlete), Teacher Stan (Marathoner, Trail Runner, and Mountaineer) and Teacher Joan (Marathoner). TW Sports envisions itself to be a partner for children with special needs to let them enjoy recreational and therapeutic sports. Children with developmental disabilities have the capacity to excel in sports given the right training program. This initiative aims to promote sports participation among children with developmental disabilities by implementing a specialized training program to prepare and train them for an Aquathlon event.

As an athlete who always joins SBR.Ph’s Trifecta Events (Aquaman, Duaman, Triman), I was inspired by Sir Carlos De Guzman of SwimBikeRun Philippines’ initiative in promoting the Aquakids last 2019 wherein kids as early as the age of 7 were welcomed to join. Also, it was inspiring that SBR.ph also includes some people with disabilities (Special mention for the Nelmida Twins) to join and to experience the fun and fulfillment of a multi-sport event. With this idea in mind, I, with the help of my teammates, wanted our students to join the Aquakids this year as we have been training for it for the past six months. Sir Carlos de Guzman had our full support for this program and training and we are very thankful for the opportunity he has given us to join the event. Opportunities for sports engagement for children with disabilities need to be expanded especially in the Philippines with the help and support of people who believe in them.

With this program and opportunity in joining the AQUAKIDS 2020 by SBR.ph, we want to be advocates especially to children with special needs to be a part of multi-sport events and programs. The kids have been doing their training since September 2019. The teachers first trained them in a private swimming pool and running field to get them ready for the combination of the two sports. They also practiced doing transitions from swim to run, from removing their swim caps and goggles to wearing their running shoes and shirts. For kids with special needs, these things could be challenging as these are novel activities. But with the help of the teachers and the fun of doing the sports, the kids are doing great and loving every minute of our training. Our team consists of 6 wonderful and hardworking kids whose ages are from 7 to 14 together with their 3 teachers/coaches. They are part of Therapy Works, Inc. family and now a full-time member of TW Sports. The team trains in a private clinic and in Vermosa Sports Hub every Sunday for them to be more prepared. With few months remaining, we think that the team is equipped with the skills needed for their first aquathlon event this coming May!

We would like to thank SBR.ph and sir Carlos De Guzman for this wonderful opportunity! See you all on May 24, 2020, at Vermosa Sports Hub for the Aquaman and Aquakids 2020!

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TW SPORTS envisions itself to be a partner for children with special needs to make them enjoy recreational and therapeutic sports. As pediatric occupational therapists who work with kids and who join multi-sports events, we also want our students to have fun and experience the feeling of working hard and the fulfillment of finishing a race. TW SPORTS wants to encourage everyone that anything is possible if you work hard for it!

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