The AAASP/GHSA State title trophies for adapted sports teams, comprised of students with physical disabilities, are proudly displayed in the Atlanta Public Schools' Administrative offices. Prior to their arrival here, trophies are in residence at the school of each player during the year of award. APS has been a member of AAASP since 1996.
ATLANTA, GA - January 24, 2013: A historic and significant milestone for our nations' school children with disabilities has been reached with the guidance issued today by the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Civil Rights (OCR). The guidelines clarify schools' responsibilities under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act to provide athletic opportunities for students with disabilities. The American Association of Adapted Sports Programs (AAASP) commends the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Civil Rights for this guidance, as it will have far reaching positive effects on the lives of children with disabilities and our communities.
Ralph Swearngin, Executive Director of the Georgia High School Association (GHSA) and board member of the National Federation of State High Schools said that he applauds the focus OCR is giving to providing athletic opportunities for disabled students. Swearingin commended AAASP for its leadership, expert guidance and pioneering efforts in this area of sport development for students with disabilities and stated, "the partnership GHSA has had with AAASP for over ten years now has been exceptional and we hope to see other state associations join AAASP as we move forward together for the positive educational benefit of sports participation for all students with disabilities."
Through an alliance struck between the two groups in 2001, GHSA has relied on AAASP to assist with the integration of track and field events for those with disabilities. The AAASP/GHSA Varsity Wheelchair Basketball State Championship game has been telecast across the state for 8 years by Georgia Public Broadcasting alongside the boys and girls title games in basketball.
Studies considered by OCR in issuing their guidance also establish that children with physical disabilities have greater activity barriers. They are often not encouraged to lead active lives and in fact this failure tends to lead to sedentary lives with greater health problems that may be avoidable.
Commenting on OCR's announcement, Tommie Storms, AAASP's Cofounder and Director of Operations noted that, "From its founding nearly 16 years ago, when our model was integrated into 10 school districts in less than three months time. AAASP has utilized every tool at its disposal to develop and implement policy, systems, adapted rules and training opportunities that have led to lasting sustainability and reasonable costs."
Vaughn added, "We would also be remise not to acknowledge those who comprise our member schools and high school associations and nearly two decades of input, review and recognition for our collective efforts by many of the nations' best minds in this area of sport and physical development. This news could not come at a better time for these administrators, teachers, coaches and coordinators who've dedicated themselves to the success of these students."
Parents whose children take part in these programs have reported that it has been noting short of a life changing experience for their child.
The other top benefits identified by parents whose children participate include:
- The opportunity to play sports that the kids would otherwise never have
- Noted reductions over previous years in secondary health complications resulting from sedentary habits.
- The ability to work hard, participate in a group, set goals, & excel in sports
- Increased motivation to get good grades, improvement in academics
- Active engagement and friendship with other students, mentors, & coaches