A group of occupational therapy assistant students from American Career College-Orange County made the drive to the Santa Clarita Sports Facility this May to volunteer for the Triumph Foundation Wheelchair Sports Festival.
More than 1,000 people attended the two-day event, which introduced wheelchair sports to newly injured veterans, children and others with disabilities. Hosted by the Triumph Foundation, the free competition featured 10 adapted recreational sports that included wheelchair hockey, basketball, quad rugby, racquetball, baseball, hand cycling, SCUBA, curling, track and field, wheelchair skating and a wheelchair rodeo race.
OTA Month FUN-raisers
To celebrate OT Month in April, the student OTA group raised $600 for the Triumph Foundation with donation events like Super Hero Day and Hawaiian Shirt Day.
Besides providing learning opportunities to the general public, the festival showcased people living with physical impairment in ways community members don’t often see.
The OTA students arrived early in the morning to help set up some of the stations and navigation signs before the athletes arrived. They also escorted participants throughout the facility, pushing their wheelchairs up the hills as well as keeping them company. Later, the OTA students were posted at the adaptive SCUBA and wheelchair racquetball stations.
"Everybody was so supportive and celebrated the athletes’ achievements. I was especially touched by the adaptive SCUBA diving event because it allowed people to participate in diving regardless of their ability,” ACC-OC OTA student Quoc Nguyen said. “It allows all kinds of people to do what they thought was once impossible, and that was amazing for me to witness.”
Nguyen said he and the other volunteers were particularly touched by the opportunities and support the festival offered the wheelchair community, not just because of the psychosocial benefits it provided the athletes but also for what it did for the friends and family of the athletes.
“As a future OT practitioner, my passion is to create possibilities for people and help them achieve what’s meaningful to them,” Nguyen said. “After volunteering at this event and interacting with all of the athletes, friends and families, I felt like my desire to become an OT practitioner has definitely been reaffirmed."
For more information about the Wheelchair Sports Festival or the Triumph Foundation, go to www.SupportTriumph.org
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