Keeping Kids with Special Needs Active in Winter

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URBANDALE, Iowa -- For those who have kids, it can be difficult to keep them active in the cold winter months. Children with disabilities have those same issue but with far fewer options.

“It’s really hard because there are really limited options available. Limited in adaption,” said Melissa Clarke-Wharff, founder of Courage League Sports in Urbandale. “It’s hard to find things that are safe and at the right speed. Things can be too fast to keep up.”

Clark-Wharff started Courage League Sports two and a half years ago after her son Jack had several strokes and wasn’t able to participate in a lot activities. She set out to create a place where kids of all abilities could stay active.

“I think it’s just as important as it is for normal kids,” said Clark-Wharff.  “Kids with disabilities are at a 38 percent higher rate to be obese than typically developing kids.”

Since the time she started the program, it has grown tremendously. They currently serve over 1,000 kids-a-month and have recurring memberships for about 300 families.

“It’s real important. It supports our program development. It helps us adapt meet those needs,” said Clark-Wharff.

Courage League offers a wide variety of sports and activities for its members but they’d like to add more.

“Adaptive sports equipment is usually 2-3 times the cost of normal equipment,” said Clark-Wharff.

One of their biggest fundraisers is a 3-on-3 Wheelchair Basketball tournament that is coming up at the end of February.

“We had 16 teams last year and we hope to double that this year,” said Clark-Wharff.

The tournament is open the public and all the equipment will be provides by the center.