The Program in Occupational Therapy has selected the Disabled Athlete Sports Association (DASA) as this year’s recipient of its Outstanding Community Partner Award. The award recognizes organizations that have developed and sustained a collaborative relationship with the Program, and share our vision, values and goals.
DASA is a non-profit organization specializing in adaptive sport and fitness opportunities with a primary focus on participation. Their programs provide therapeutic sports and fitness activities designed to improve self-esteem, growth and well-being while instilling family values. They encourage athletes of all ages and abilities to seek their highest level of independence and become involved to the fullest extent possible with their non-disabled peers and their communities. DASA is also a U.S. Paralympic Sports Club and works tirelessly to educate the community about adaptive sports and provide Olympic-driven sports opportunities for people with disabilities. They host and sponsor the National Adaptive Sports and Fitness Conference bi-annually to educate and train physical education teachers, coaches, therapy professionals and students in various topics related to recreational and competitive-level fitness and sports for people with physical and visual disabilities.
“As occupational therapists, we believe in treating each client using a holistic approach. DASA shares these beliefs and encourages a holistic, healthy lifestyle for their athletes. They empower individuals with physical disabilities to live to the best of their natural abilities with greater emotional and physical well-being,” says Clinical Specialist Kimberly Walker, OTD, OTR/L, ATP, who nominated the organization. “Research has shown there are benefits to exercise for people with disabilities. DASA believes that, through participation in sports and fitness activities, athletes will decrease the risk of secondary conditions and common ailments that often affect people with disabilities.”
Since 2014, the Program has partnered and collaborated with DASA in various course activities, student efforts, research projects and outreach programming. DASA helps educate students by providing guest lectures and adaptive sports and recreation equipment for lab experiences. Doctoral students can complete a portion of their doctoral capstone project working with DASA. Students can volunteer, both formally and informally, in many of their adaptive sports and fitness programs. In addition, DASA has assisted in recruiting research participants and providing them with adaptive exercise equipment to trial. This past fall, the Program collaborated with DASA and other organizations to host the first Adaptive Sports Day Extravaganza. The outreach event provided education about adaptive sports, in a safe and positive experience, to the St. Louis community.
“It has been a pleasure working with the students and educational team of the Washington University Occupational Therapy Program. The students and staff are committed and engaged to ensure quality programming. Willing to not only volunteer their time to assist in DASA programming, but also share their knowledge to assist in positive program development,” says Kelly Behlmann, executive director of DASA.
Behlmann accepted the award on April 26 during the Program’s 11th annual Occupational Therapy Scholarship Day.
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