2014-02-21 / Columnists

Go Parks!

Go Sports And Fitness For Everybody!
By Chris Noel

Wheelchair basketball at Al Oerter Recreation Center in Queens. Photo by Daniel Avila, NYC Parks. Wheelchair basketball at Al Oerter Recreation Center in Queens. Photo by Daniel Avila, NYC Parks. The Paralympics at Sochi kicks off on March 7th, just weeks after the Olympic Games. Together, these events show the breadth and passion so many of us feel for sport. At the Paralympics, competitions will include Alpine skiing, cross-country skiing, a biathlon, ice sled hockey, and wheelchair curling.

Whether your personal best amounts to a day of fun, a regular workout, or Olympic and Paralympic dreams, there are so many great options for you to step up your own game right here in your favorite city -- New York -- where NYC Parks offers programs, facilities and sports clinics for all ages and needs.

We offer basketball and wheelchair basketball, ice hockey and ice sled hockey, tennis and wheelchair tennis, rugby and quad rugby, biking and hand cycling, sit volleyball, beep baseball, adaptive swimming, and serious training in NYC Parks locations citywide. I've been living with a Spinal Cord Injury (SCI) since 2003, and if you’re a little like me, an injury is the last thing to stop you from playing the sports you love.

Sled hockey for kids. Photo by Malcolm Pinckney, NYC Parks. Sled hockey for kids. Photo by Malcolm Pinckney, NYC Parks. In Queens, Flushing Meadows Corona Park offers sled hockey programs for children as young as 4-years-old, and scheduled adaptive swimming for teens, adults, and seniors in the indoor pool.

The Flushing Meadows Corona Park Boat House is the site of a designated U.S. Paralympic Sport Club, and in partnership with Row New York, offers opportunities to train on adaptive rowing teams for competitions. NYC Parks' Playgrounds for All Children feature ground-level, ramped and elevated play equipment, accessible picnic tables, accessible bathrooms, and lowered basketball hoops. The first opened at Flushing Meadows Corona Park in 1984.

Wheelchair softball. Photo by Daniel Avila, NYC Parks.. Wheelchair softball. Photo by Daniel Avila, NYC Parks.. In Manhattan, stop by the Gertrude Ederle Recreation Center on West 60th Street or the Hansborough Recreation Center on 135th Street near Lenox Avenue for youth, teen, adult, and senior adaptive swimming and sports clinics.

In Brooklyn, the newly restored McCarren Pool and Play Center features universally designed fitness equipment in its gym and, for summer fun, a fully ADAcompliant outdoor pool.

In the Bronx, Joseph Yancey track and field in Macombs Dam Park is fully accessible.

In Staten Island, try the Greenbelt Recreation Center, which features inclusive fitness equipment.

Ready to get started or ramp up your game? On Saturday, February 22nd at Recreation Center 54 in Manhattan, "Kids Enjoy Exercise Now" (KEEN) will provide one-on-one activities for children and young adults with developmental and physical disabilities.

On Monday, February 24th, it's a Sit Aerobics class for adults and seniors at the St. John's Recreation Center in Brooklyn at 10 a.m., Chair Yoga for adults and seniors at the Asser Levy Recreation Center in Manhattan at 10 a.m., and ShapeUp NYC's Chair Toning class for adults and seniors at St. Mary's Recreation Center in the Bronx at 10:30 a.m., to name just a few.

On February 25th, join us at the recently refurbished Gertrude Ederle Recreation Center at noon for a selection of adaptive sports clinics for seniors and adults, to help you get your dreams of spring sports underway. It won't be long before the snow melts away and the sports fields are open!

Most recreation center classes require membership, which is free for kids, only $25 for the entire year for young adults and seniors, and extremely low-cost for adults. ShapeUp NYC classes do not require membership.

For more information and details, go to www.nyc.gov/parks and search adaptive sports or recreation centers.

Go Park! Go fun! Chris Noel is the ADA Accessibility Coordinator for NYC Parks.

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