Volunteer Work to Get Involved In to Help Challenged Athletes

Studies show that adaptive sport participation can correlate with a high quality of life among participants with disabilities and help increase the physical, social, and environmental domains of wellness.

Almost any sport, including basketball, can be modified or adapted to include individuals with any level of disability.

This adaptability suggests that anyone who has played these sports can consider volunteering to assist adaptive athletes and individuals with special needs in participating in such sports.

Sports can help individuals improve their breathing and lung health and potentially offset the symptoms of lung-related diseases like asthma, lung cancer, or mesothelioma in different stages.

How can individuals participate in volunteer work to help adaptive athletes in sports? What work can volunteers do in a basketball clinic for adaptive athletes? Are there other adaptive sports where people can do volunteer work?

This article discusses how volunteers can help adaptive athletes in sports programs and explains how to provide volunteer work for such athletes in a basketball clinic.

Additionally, this article lists other special sports that volunteers can get involved in to assist adaptive athletes.

How to Volunteer to Help Adaptive Athletes

Sports camps help individuals improve their health through exercise and teach them to stay active. These camps can also help improve mental health, social skills, and self-discipline.

Sports camps and clinics are becoming more popular on school grounds and university campuses. But while adaptive athletes and individuals with special needs aren’t excluded from these camps, there aren’t enough resources to fully include everyone.

Thus, there’s a need for volunteer work to help bridge the gap between this lack of resources and the needs of adaptive athletes.

Some adaptive athletes or youth with special needs don’t often play sports at school, whether individually or in teams. These athletes don’t have many opportunities to interact with people of various skills over a fun-filled game.

Volunteers can help challenged individuals get involved in adaptive sports by understanding how to segment athletes with varying ability levels in ways not practiced in mainstream sports routines.

Those interested in starting their volunteering journey and helping adaptive athletes should consider seeking out local organizations first.

Volunteers can assist with activities like:

  • Setting up equipment and organizing events
  • Helping to find willing sponsors
  • Advertising the events
  • Registering for participants and guests
  • Acting as support staff for participants
  • Guiding adaptive athletes, their families, and friends around the event venue
  • Doing administrative work at the organization’s headquarters

Who can volunteer? Anyone can offer their services as a volunteer, especially the following groups:

  • High school and college students
  • Retired individuals
  • Service groups
  • Active professionals or business teams
  • Non-profit organizations

To become a volunteer, an individual should consider developing self-control or restraint. Some adaptive athletes or special needs children can behave in ways a volunteer doesn’t always expect, or that may cause harm to others. In this case, the volunteer must know when to step in without being too controlling.

Even when the volunteer thinks they have little self-control, they can gradually learn how to address specific issues as they spend more time with the adaptive athletes.

Volunteers are expected to practice kindness and show empathy. After all, it’s a human trait to want to help and assist others.

Kindness is a person’s quality to be helpful, generous, and caring about others. Meanwhile, empathy is being aware, sensitive, and able to understand others’ feelings, thoughts, and experiences.

Kind and empathetic volunteers can place themselves in the athlete’s position and understand the participant’s needs. In doing so, the volunteer can take the necessary action to address those needs, primarily regarding the athlete’s physical, behavioral, and emotional disabilities.

Anyone can meet another person’s needs for friendship, compassion, and understanding. With this capacity, volunteers can work with adaptive athletes to encourage a change in attitudes and bring about empathic responsiveness.

Volunteers gain the opportunity for self-growth and a unique insight into the challenges those with special needs must overcome daily, which in turn grows an understanding of the lasting effects of disability.

In many cases, volunteers must also have training for the particular adaptive sport they’re assisting.

For example, ski and snowboard volunteers must attend on-hill and dryland training. Volunteers are paired with an experienced instructor to help improve the volunteers’ skills on snow, comply with program safety regulations, and complete progress reports to track the volunteers’ improvement.

In some instances, more experienced volunteers have fewer training requirements than new ones.

Another example is kayaking. New volunteers must complete on-water and dryland training to develop skills involving advanced rescue techniques.

The skills learned through these training sessions are essential, especially when volunteers must act as overall supervisors, safety managers, equipment handlers, and companion paddlers for participants on the water.

Individuals who want to volunteer for specific adaptive sports and undergo training sessions should contact their local organization for more information and scheduling.

Volunteer Work for Adaptive Athletes in a Basketball Clinic

Challenged Athletes Foundation (CAF), in collaboration with the National Wheelchair Basketball Association, aims to introduce adaptive athletes of all ages to wheelchair basketball and help them develop their skills.

Basketball wheelchairs are the most requested and funded item in CAF’s Annual Grant Program, which provides funding for adaptive sports equipment, competition/travel expenses, and coaching/training sessions.

Volunteers in a basketball clinic, especially those conducted in schools, often consist of college or professional basketball players and student physical therapists (PTs). Many of these volunteers usually act as camp facilitators.

Studies show that student athletes who are engaged in other areas of campus life besides athletic activities demonstrate more positive outcomes than those who are less engaged.

Many physical therapy programs allow PTs to participate in community engagement activities like volunteering, service learning, and pro bono experiences.

Research shows that individuals who volunteer in community-based activities can improve their self-awareness. This self-awareness can help improve one’s identity and foster a greater sense of self.

Volunteers who facilitate a basketball clinic for adaptive athletes can structure the clinic to consist of, but not limited to, the following activities:

  • Group opening activities like warm-ups
  • Passing, dribbling, and shooting stations
  • Casual shoot-around
  • Closing group activity

Volunteers should remember that the special needs youth and adaptive athletes must focus more on having fun and not on what limits the participants’ physical conditions.

In other words, volunteers should consider focusing on the athlete’s desire to have a great sports experience and the ability to do so despite the disability.

Other Adaptive Sports to Consider Volunteering In

Individuals interested in volunteering can approach the Challenged Athletes Foundation (CAF) for volunteer work opportunities.

CAF provides numerous sports camps and clinics where volunteers can assist adaptive athletes, such as in the following programs:

  • Adaptive curling and sled hockey clinic
  • Adaptive skate and WCMX (wheelchair and bike motocross) clinic
  • Adaptive swim clinic
  • Winter sports, including para nordic skiing, sled hockey, and para alpine skiing

For more information on specific sports camps and clinics, including venues, schedules, and registration, call 858-866-0959 or visit the CAF headquarters at 9591 Waples St., San Diego, CA 92121.


  1. Effects of Adaptive Sports on Quality of Life in Individuals with Disability


  1. Top 5 benefits of a Sports Camp


  1. A Volunteer Basketball Clinic for Children with Disabilities: Professional Development Impact on Student-Athletes and Physical Therapy Students


  1. Kindness


  1. Empathy