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Physically Challenged Sports & Recreation Program

Kennedy Krieger Institute: Greenspring Campus • 3825 Greenspring Ave. • Baltimore, MD 21211

Recent Highlights:

The School Programs at Kennedy Krieger Institute has been named a 2012 Leadership and Innovation in Special Education Awardee by the National Association of Private Special Education Centers (NAPSEC).

Program Overview:

Kennedy Krieger’s Physically Challenged Sports Program provides therapeutic sports and recreational programs for children with varying degrees of physical abilities. The programs incorporate opportunities for participants to learn sports to: practice and develop skills independently, use learned skills during leisure time, grow socially/emotionally and practice problem solving. Programs are tailored to the unique needs of each child and family.

Activities are held on a weekly basis on the grounds of the Greenspring Campus of Kennedy Krieger Institute. Off-site programming may include participation in local, regional, national and international athletic competitions. Special activity camps in handcycling, bicycling and sled hockey are held on campus or at local university/recreational facilities. Activities scheduled for a particular semester may vary and can include both beginner and advanced training. A list of activities, including descriptions, is offered below.


Ice Skating: I-Skate, Dorothy Hamill's adaptive skating program was established in November 2009 to allow children with physical disabilities to enjoy recreational ice skating.

Motor Development: Designed for younger children with physical challenges, activities are selected to improve children's fine and gross motor coordination. Youngsters improve basic catching, throwing, striking and movement patterns as they manipulate themselves through a variety of climbing apparatus and experiment with different pieces of athletic equipment. Following 45 minutes in the gymnasium, the athletes go to the pool for basic swimming orientation and instruction.

Fitness and Swimming: This program is designed to help improve athletes' overall fitness level. Cardiovascular activities, as well as strength training programs are addressed in the fitness center, followed by time in the pool for basic swimming orientation and instruction.

Fitness Only/Swimming Only: An athlete can register for either fitness only or swimming only as described above.

Wheelchair Football: The wheelchair football program is a recreational program designed to expose participants to wheelchair football. Any participant with a physical challenge is eligible to play, but all athletes must use an electric or manual wheelchair. The Physically Challenged Sports and Recreation Program provides extra chairs for the ambulatory athlete.

Wheelchair Basketball: Opportunities to participate, train and compete in wheelchair basketball are provided for all athletes with a permanent lower limb disability. Participants can practice in three levels of play:

  • Ages 10 and under, 5' to 7' baskets
  • Ages 12 and under, 8'6" baskets
  • Ages 18 and under, 10' baskets

Loaner basketball wheelchairs are available for those who don't have their own chair.

Ambulatory Sports Program: This program is designed for athletes who are physically challenged and can ambulate with or without assistive devices. Soccer, volleyball, lacrosse, basketball, baseball, junior baseball, tennis, golf and boccia/polypat/table tennis are offered, depending on the season of the year. Each of these programs is designed to accommodate all levels of play and ability. The formation of separate groups allows for different levels of competition.

Sitting Volleyball: Using traditional volleyball rules, this program requires athletes to play from the floor using a much lower net. This is a paralympic sport open to any athlete who is physically challenged yet able to maintain independent sitting balance on the floor. Athletes must also be able to move themselves with ease around the floor.

Wheelchair Floor Hockey: This is an instructional hockey program that enables students to build skills in puck handling, passing and shooting as well as game skills and strategies. Athletes who use an electric or manual wheelchair are welcome to participate. Athletes who have ambulatory disabilities can use a manual wheelchair available through the program.

Sled Hockey: The sled hockey program is designed for any athlete with a physical challenge. All levels of play and ability are available. Athletes wear full ice hockey equipment as necessitated by USA Hockey.

Boccia: Using the United States Cerebral Palsy Boccia rules, athletes have the opportunity to learn to play boccia, as well as practice the strategies used to play the game. The program is offered to individuals from beginner to advanced levels. Ramp players are welcome. The program organizes individual and team matches.

Table Tennis/Polybat: This is an instructional program for beginners and advanced players. Basic table tennis techniques such as forehand, backhand and the serve are demonstrated and practiced. Participants learn and use the rules of table tennis in practice matches and a singles tournament. Developed in England, Polybat is a game adapted from table tennis. Unlike tennis, polybat allows more than two players to participate at a given time. A lighter paddle and side walls offer greater control and an exciting experience. Rules for polybat are covered in a mini-tournament.

Tennis: The tennis program is designed to provide basic to advanced instruction in stand-up and wheelchair tennis. The program covers the basic skills of forehand, backhand and the serve, as well as basic strategy and match play.

Track and Field: The track and field program provides the opportunity to become familiar with the basic and advanced techniques needed to participate in competitions. Participants practice running form and pushing form drills, as well as interval training on the wheelchair rollers or treadmill. Participants receive instruction and training in the shot put discus, javelin, softball and club throwing events according to age and classification (athletes are classified to determine the appropriate events). Athletes receive information and assistance regarding opportunities to participate in local, regional and national competitions.

Baseball: The baseball program is conducted in the gymnasium and is open to all athletes nine years or older. Participants receive practice time and instruction for hitting and fielding the baseball, as well as ongoing instruction regarding the rules of the game. For safety purposes, athletes use a "soft tee" practice ball. Volunteers or staff pitch. The five-run maximum rule per inning is utilized. Athletes get five strikes, and each side is given three outs per inning.

Junior Baseball: The junior baseball program is conducted in the gymnasium and is designed for athletes nine years of age and under. Participants receive basic instruction in throwing, catching and hitting off a tee. A safe tee ball will be utilized for all activities. Games will be played to reinforce practiced skills, focusing on fun and participation.

Wheelchair Softball: Wheelchair softball takes place in our gym or on our new outdoor facility. A 14” DeBeers gymball softball is used, eliminating the need for gloves. Tournaments and clinics are conducted throughout the Spring and Summer. Sports chairs are available for those who need them.

Power Soccer: Power Soccer programs are available for power wheelchair users ages five and up. Adapted guards are attached to the power chairs to assist the participants in playing the ball. The program offers two levels of play: Division I for older more experienced players and Division II for developing players. Both programs are registered with the United States Power Soccer Association.

PCSRP Annual Programming Schedule

Current Program Affiliations:

The Physically Challenged Sports and Recreation Program is currently a member in good standing of the following organizations:

  • American Athletes with Disabilities
  • American Wheelchair Table Tennis Association
  • American Wheelchair Archery
  • Dwarf Athletic Association
  • Junior Olympic Archery Development Program
  • National Wheelchair Basketball Association
  • National Wheelchair Softball
  • National Archery Association
  • United States Electric Wheelchair Hockey Association
  • United States Power Soccer Association
  • United States Sled Hockey Association
  • United States Tennis Association
  • Delaware Valley Sled Hockey League
  • United States Paratriathlon Association
  • Wheelchair and Ambulatory Sports, USA
  • Wheelchair USA Swimming

Admissions Criteria:

The Physically Challenged Sports and Recreation Program is open to individuals aged 2 - 21 who experience physical challenges and exhibit cognitive skills at or near appropriate developmental levels. Participants are interviewed along with their families to determine appropriateness for participation. Participants must demonstrate the ability to follow one-step verbal directions and to respond to verbal social and behavioral cues necessary for safe, independent participation in group activities.

Admission to the program is also determined based on the availability of space in a particular program.

Determination of eligibility is made during the interview by the program's co-directors.


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Administrative Contact

Gerry and Gwena Herman
Directors, Physically Challenged Sports and Recreation Program (PCSRP)
Kennedy Krieger High School Career and Technology Center
3825 Greenspring Avenue
Baltimore, MD 21211
Phone: (443) 923-7844
Fax: (443) 923-7850
Fax: (443) 923-4525


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