A Holiday Physical Activity Gift for Children with Disabilities
|Example of what an interactive baseball program could look like|
In the era of technology, anything is possible. Sensors in tires will cause cars to automatically slow down or stop when there is traffic ahead or ice on the road; Blackberries and I-phones are starting to be used to scan food prices at the grocery store with the bill sent directly to your favorite credit card company; scanners at airports will read your DNA through a blood vessel in your eye and have you get through security without any wait; traffic control will send an SMS to your phone giving you the best times or routes to get to work; and that's only the start.
I'm convinced that there is already technology available to make sports equally fun and competitive for youth with disabilities.
Let's start with baseball. The child has cerebral palsy or spina bifida and uses a wheelchair. He or she loves the game and desperately wants to play and compete like all the other children on the team.
So Santa gathers his engineering elves around the yuletide tree and gives them the assignment: "Listen team. I need you to make a small, lightweight machine with a tiny motor that projects a ball into the playing field at any direction within 180 degrees after John or Mary's bat sensor connects with the sensor on the ball. In other words, as the ball is pitched they have to time their swing and adjust their bat height to match up with the trajectory of the ball. When the sensor on the ball connects with the sensor on the bat and the swing has a certain speed, accuracy and direction, have the 'collision' (bat connects with ball) be recognized by the machine causing the ball to be released into the field. The more bat speed the greater force of the ball and the more likely that it will be harder for the opposing player to field or it may even reach the outfield for an extra base hit! When it gets into the field, have John and Mary hit a pad on their lap quickly and forcefully so that their hands simulate their 'virtual' base running. If they can get 20 hits or 'steps' before the ball arrives to the first baseman they're safe; if they can't get to 20 'steps,' they're out. That will give John and Mary lots of reasons to practice their batting and base running with mom and dad. Next year we'll design something for fielding"
"Ok engineering elves? So forget about the Zhu Zhu pets and stay focused on the hottest item, getting John and Mary and others what they need to be as competitive as the other players. I want them to have the same opportunities to hit a home run, if they practice of course, and possibly even win the game."
Please send any questions or comments to Jim Rimmer, NCHPAD Director at firstname.lastname@example.org.