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Grant Funding

Kelly Brush Foundation

Purpose – Adaptive sports equipment
Eligibility – SCI and residing in the US
Deadlines – Mid-March (spring cycle) and mid-September (fall cycle)
Award Dates – Late-April (spring cycle) and late-October (fall cycle)

Challenged Athletes Foundation

Purpose – Adaptive sports equipment, travel, competition, coaching, and training expenses
Eligibility – All permanent physical disabilities
Deadlines – November
Award Dates – Following March

High Fives Foundation

Purpose – Goals related to recovery
Eligibility – SCI, TBI, other injury sustained in outdoor sports
Deadlines – Quarterly
Award Dates – Following month

Other grant programs that include eligibility for adaptive sports equipment and/or experiences:

Other organizations with grant programs for other aspects of support after an SCI:

Other SCI Resource Compilations:

Have one you think we should add? Please email [email protected].

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How do I get started in adaptive sports?

Our #1 suggestion: find someone near you with an SCI or an adaptive sports program that can help you answer your personal questions. For some people just buying the equipment and learning on your own works, but that’s rarely the case. If there are few resources near you, connect with someone who can talk you through it.

There is so much to learn: the types of equipment, what works best for your level of function, how to participate safely, how to develop good habits, and more. Don’t try to reinvent the wheel, find people that can help.

How to get started: use the KBF Active Project to help you find programs and people, get the basics about sports and equipment, and connect with someone near you or one of our founding members.

What is an “adaptive sports program”?

Adaptive sport programs help people with physical and cognitive disabilities participate in many different recreation activities to further enhance their lives. There are hundreds around the country. Some focus specifically on one sport while others offer a wide range of sports. Take a look at our Program Directory under the “Explore by Location” map to see where they are and what they offer.

Some other things to think about:

  • How do I get there? Transportation is a common barrier for people after an SCI. It often takes a while to get set up with hand controls and get certified to drive again. If you aren’t there, don’t worry. Ask a friend, family member or check with your nearest chapter for more resources on public transit. If you’re in a more urban area you can even use Uber or Lyft.
  • What should I wear? The answer to this questions depends on the activity, where you live, and the season. But some basic advice includes “wear something comfortable.” Likely you will get warm so make sure to dress in layers. Try to wear pants or shorts that have elastic on the waist so they stay up better. Try to avoid zippers or buttons on your butt so you don’t sit on them and create skin issues. And remember, “look good / feel good”!
  • What should I bring? Always better to be over-prepared than under-prepared, especially with an SCI. Always carry a full change of clothes around with you no matter what you’re doing. This goes for bathroom supplies too, bring extra catheters or whatever else you might need if you’re in a “shitty” situation. Baby wipes are also always a good call to have around.
  • How do I go to the bathroom when I’m there? Ask the program where the nearest accessible bathroom is. If you can, try to use the restroom before you start your activity if you need to. Also, try calling ahead to make sure you can do what you need to do if you are concerned. Adaptive sports programs are ready for this stuff (generally…). Remember be over-prepared if you can, bring your own bathroom supplies as adaptive programs will not have those things if need be.
  • Will I meet other people in chairs? You might, plus some programs offer camps or clinics for sports that might be wheelchair participant oriented and is a great way to meet others, connect, learn and have more fun. Just swapping notes with people in chairs can be one of the best parts of going to an adaptive sports program.
  • How much does it cost? Depends on the program and the sport. Some programming is free and some charge. Contact a program and ask, most of the time they will work with you so you can participate and be active again. However, do remember the equipment is highly specialized, expensive and hard to come by and these programs do their very best to help you succeed. We provide resources about programs from many awesome organizations that are out there to help with equipment expenses.
  • How do I sign up to participate at an adaptive sports program? Go to the “Explore” page to see programs in your area or places you would like to go. Their website and contact info are available to view. Contact them in regards to their programming and start getting active sooner.
  • Do I have to go to an adaptive sports program? Absolutely not! Know another adaptive athlete, organization or others who have equipment, great. Ask to try out their equipment and learn from them. Adaptive programs are just one way to get involved, whatever gets you out there works!
  • Can I just learn on my own? Maybe, but this depends on the sports, your experience, and your support network. Most programs will have the necessary instructors and volunteers to help you achieve your goals. But some less technical sports with less expensive equipment (for example tennis) can be learned independently, especially if you just want to go out and have fun (but not win Wimbledon…).

What health issues should I think about?

Whether you’re ready is an answer only you can answer, but below hopefully helps you identify that things you should be thinking about.

  • How do I protect my skin? One of the most important things to watch for. Start with your clothing, no zippers or buttons on your backside, watch pinch points when using equipment or anything that might be rubbing on your skin. Do pressure reliefs when you can and also examine yourself after you’re done with your activity. This is important but easy to forget about. Until you know how your skin will react to different situations, be VERY careful.
  • What if I get really hot? Make sure to regulate your body temperature, which becomes increasingly important as your level of injury is higher. Wear layers to warm up or cool down or bring a spritzer bottle with you to cool you down during activity (this is very common for people with C-level injuries). Remember, most people with SCIs don’t sweat below their injury.
  • What if I get autonomic dysreflexia (AD)? (Wait, what is AD?) Stop what you’re doing immediately and notify whoever you are with and seek help. Most adaptive programs ask about your needs, make sure you let them know if you are prone to AD. Remember to not rely on others when you can be your best ally and know your body.AD is a sudden onset of excessively high blood pressure, most common at injury levels of T6 and above. Some of the signs of AD include high blood pressure, pounding headache, flushed face, sweating above the level of injury, goose flesh below the level of injury, nasal stuffiness, nausea, and a slow pulse (slower than 60 beats per minute). Symptoms will vary based on the individual.
  • What if I’m not in shape? Who actually thinks they are in great shape anyway? That’s one reason you need to start now! Whether you are just starting out or learning another sport there is going to be a learning curve. So don’t sweat it (well, you should be sweating…), just worry about actually getting out there and being active.
  • I’m worried I won’t be good at it. No one ever is when they first start, but you need to start somewhere. Try hard not to get discouraged even if it’s not going how you thought it would. No two spinal cord injuries are the same. Listen, learn, work hard, repeat. Just get out there and have fun!
  • Who can I talk to that’s been through this? We’re here for you! Click the CONNECT button and we’ll put you in touch with the right person.
  • What else do I need to know? Everyone has different questions! Use the CONNECT button and let’s chat!

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