CEDAR FALLS, Iowa -- The University of Northern Iowa will play host to the UNI Adapted Sports Camp June 13-16 at for young athletes with a lower limb disability who will use wheelchairs for adapted sports. The camp takes place at Northern University High, the UNI outdoor track and UNI's Wellness Recreation Center.
According to Jack Eherenman, co-director of the UNI Adapted Sports Camp, the UNI camp is the only opportunity in the state for youth using wheelchairs to partake in competitive and recreational sports training. Athletes are able to participate in track and field, basketball, hand cycling, football, rugby, softball, tennis, bocce ball, sit walley ball, rock climbing and weight training.
"The goal is to get most athletes with a disability to learn that they have many abilities to achieve success in sports activities and then translate that to have the confidence to look at many other obstacles that may come up in their lives and find a way to overcome them, and to pursue new goals that they now can have confidence to try to achieve," Eherenman said.
Eherenman said the camp benefits the athletes on many levels.
"It's hard to describe in words all the effects that it has on their lives. We see so many changes in all of the athletes from when they come into camp each year and when they go out," he said.
Competitive and recreational sports for those with a disability hit home for Eherenman. He has four sons, and three have disabilities. His youngest son, Sean, was born with spina bifida, and has a passion for competitive sports. Sean attended several camps for wheelchair athletes and he eventually excelled in track and field at Waterloo West High School, where Eherenman was his assistant coach.
"I've been around people with disabilities for more than 30 years as a result of having three children who have a different type of major disability, and the challenges we face as a family every day. Because I've had these experiences, when I do meet someone who happens to have a disability of some kind, I try to learn more about that person and their abilities, rather than focus on what they have or can't do," Eherenman said.