There are many sports and recreation opportunities available in the community for children and young adults with disabilities and their families. These are some of the programs available but there are many more that are not listed here. PACER does not endorse or specifically recommend any of these programs and all information is subject to change. Please contact individual sources for the most current information.
Thank you to PACER intern Sam Graves for researching and compiling this information.
More playgrounds are being built with an eye toward accessibility and usability. The latest in Minnesota is the Wabun Universal Access Play Area near Minnehaha Falls, which is accessible to children of all physical abilities (www.minneapolisparks.org ).
Adaptive Recreation and Inclusion Programs
Contact your city, county, or state to find programs in your area by phone or search “adaptive recreation in (city), (county), or (state)” on the Internet. Examples are:
- Adapted Recreation and Learning Exchange (AR & LE) | 952.563.4949
Specialized recreation programs and services specifically designed for youth and adults with disabilities. Adaptive Recreation works cooperatively with the Learning Exchange and the Community Education Adults with Disabilities programs in the school districts of Bloomington, Eden Prairie, Edina, and Richfield
- River Valley Project Explore
Community education classes for individuals from preschool to adult.
- St. Paul Parks and Recreation | 651.793.6635
A comprehensive recreational program for Saint Paul residents of all ages who are mentally and/or physically disabled. In addition to specialized activities, it provides opportunities for people with disabilities to become integrated into programs that are available to the majority of the public. The program strives to provide its participants with skills needed to successfully participate in community-based recreation programs.
American Association of Adapted Sports Programs, Inc. (AAASP) | 404.294.0070
One of the nation’s most comprehensive school-based athletic programs for children and youth with physical disabilities in grades 1-12.
Blog that focuses on sports for people with disabilities and how these individuals can participate in all sorts of sporting events. Includes details on the history of sports and people with disabilities, a look at different games that can be played, and information on the latest ways people with disabilities are being incorporated into these games.
An organization that creates opportunities for one-to-one friendships, integrated employment, and leadership development for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
Local non-profit online social network created to connect young adults with learning disabilities, ages 20-39. Several social and recreational activities are available to meet online friends.
- AuSM Summer Camps | 651.647.1083
The Autism Society of Minnesota (AuSM) has developed camps specifically for children and youth ages 6-25 with autism. Day camps and residential camps are offered.
Minnesota summer camps for all people, including those with special needs such as asthma, cancer, learning disabilities, ADHD, physical disabilities, and others. Camps can be searched by camp type, activity, and state.
- Camp Avanti – St. Croix | 715.386.4380
A unique summer camp program that combines a challenging camp environment with an intensive sensory integration treatment approach.
- Camp Buckskin | 763.208.4805
A highly structured camping experience for children with social and/or academic difficulties.
- Camp Connections – West Metro Learning Connections | 952.454.0227
A unique summer day camp offering social skills programming combined with goal-directed therapeutic recreation activities for children and youth ages 4-16 with Asperger’s disorder, high functioning autism, and other social, emotional, and behavioral needs. Each week includes fun, theme-centered activities, outings, and learning experiences.
- Camp Oz | 1.800.779.0777
For children and youth ages 9-17 with epilepsy. Combines a traditional camp experience with the security of 24/7 medical staff. Siblings and friends who don’t have epilepsy are also welcome to attend.
- Connections: Social Skills Camp
A school year and summer day camp program for children who have social difficulties. Provides campers with direct social skills instruction and immediate opportunities to practice everyday skills.
- Minnesota Zoo-AuSM
A partnership between the Minnesota Zoo and Autism Society of Minnesota (AuSM) offers four fun-filled summer camps for youth with autism.
- PACER Center EX.I.T.E. Camp | 952.838.9000
Offers opportunities for girls with disabilities in middle school (grades 6-9) to explore, create, invent, and even get messy with the science and technology of today.
- True Friends | 1.800.450.8376 or 952.852.0101
True Friends (formerly Camp Courage, Camp Friendship, and Camp Eden Wood) provides camp and respite experiences to children and adults with a variety of disabilities, along with their family and friends. Children with developmental disabilities, physical disabilities, learning disabilities, and medical needs will have opportunities to develop an appreciation of nature, live cooperatively with others, share in the responsibilities of group living, develop new leisure interests, experience traditional camp activities, and have fun!
Courage Kenney Rehabilitation Institute SHARE | 612.775.2275
Providing people of all ages and abilities the opportunity to achieve physical and emotional fitness and just have some fun.
Courage Kenny Rehabilitation Institute Sports and Recreation | 612.775.2280
Includes various activities and a wide variety of sports that encourage youth and adults with disabilities to lead active and healthy lifestyles.
Disabled Sports USA
Providing adaptive sports opportunities for people with disabilities to develop independence, confidence, and fitness through more than 40 different sports. There are many chapters located throughout the United States.
Fraser Connect for Rec | 612.767.5180
Connect for Rec is a respite care program with an opportunity for children to make social connections through recreation in a safe and interactive group setting. The program inclusively meets the unique needs of participating children and youth ages 3-12.
Highland Park Friendship Club | 651.698.4096
Providing an array of year-round activities designed to give teens and young adults with disabilities the chance to connect with friends with and without disabilities and create a typical social life.
Higley Metals LLC | 763.438.0356
Builder of special needs bicycles for reduced prices.
- Courage Riders | 651.439.8283
A therapeutic, recreational horseback riding program for children with physical disabilities and sensory impairments. They offer riding lessons to children ages 5-18 from May through September. Courage Riders is located at the Washington County Fairgrounds in Lake Elmo, Minn.
- Forget-Me-Not Foundation | 218.885.3663
Provides recreational horseback riding with therapeutic benefits and other opportunities for people with disabilities, including veterans. Located in Nashwauk, Minn., the grounds also include a large handicapped-accessible outdoor playground and free-access shelters for the horses.
- Hold Your Horses | 763.595.7112
A professional therapy team and trained equine partners provide opportunities for skill development both on and off the horse. Individuals with physical, cognitive, or sensory impairments can benefit from the engaging treatment strategy of hippotherapy or equine facilitated psychotherapy.
- Majestic Hills Ranch | 952.703.3719
Therapeutic horseback riding program for children and young adults with special needs as well as military veterans. The ranch, located in Lakeville, Minn., has a fenced-in outdoor riding arena with wheelchair ramp, picnic area, gardens, and a small petting zoo. A second arena offers advanced programs teaching independent riding skills.
- North Country RIDE Therapeutic Riding Center | 218.879.7608
NCRide programs are for children and adults with physical and developmental disabilities using indoor and outdoor arenas in Esko, Minn. Friends, siblings, parents, or spouses may register and ride along during the session for companionship. Sessions are divided into four 6-week sessions from April through October.
- We Can Ride: Therapeutic Horseback Riding | 952.934.0057
Seeking to improve the lives of individuals with disabilities or special needs through equine-assisted activities.
- West Metro Horse Camp | 763.682.1046
Year-round, fully inclusive working horse operation, and a division of True Love Arabians in Buffalo, Minn. Camp events include a parade of breeds and colors, demonstrations on safety, grooming, saddling of the horses, and many other learning experiences. Includes hands-on participation and plenty of riding.
St. Paul Jewish Community Center | 651.255.4772
St. Louis Park Jewish Community Center | 952.381.3400
A place where all individuals, families, and communities come together for child care, fitness, recreation, and socialization in a safe, inclusive, and welcoming environment designed to provide everyone with a sense of belonging. They provide full inclusive opportunities for children, teens, and adults through various programs, camps, and sports programs.
Website to help people find information about recreation and leisure activities, services, and advocacy. Life Pages offers information for Minnesotans of all ages and abilities who want to enrich their leisure lifestyle as well as their connections.
Minnesota Special Hockey | 612.581.4483
This program exists for the enrichment of the athlete with a developmental disability. In addition to physical hockey skills, the program emphasizes the development of desirable individual characteristics such as dependability, self-reliance, concentration, teamwork, willingness to share, and personal accountability. The game of hockey is used by Special Hockey to develop within each player the characteristics that will help the player to be more successful both inside and outside a hockey environment.
Minnesota State High School League
Provides high school students with various disabilities the opportunity to participate in adapted bowling, soccer, floor hockey, and softball.
Miracle League of Minnesota | 612.703.3218
The Miracle League is a charitable organization that provides children and youth ages 3-19 with disabilities an opportunity to play baseball as a team member in an organized league. The league also promotes the construction of special facilities that meet the unique needs of Miracle League players and their families.
National Sports Center for the Disabled | 303.316.1518
A year-round national sports, camping, and recreation program based in Colorado that teaches a variety of winter and summer sports and activities to individuals with almost any physical, cognitive, emotional, or behavioral diagnosis. Participants are ages 6 to adult from across the country. Some programs are geared toward full family participation.
PACER Center Fun Times | 952.838.9000
Volunteer-based social program that connects high school teens and young adults with and without disabilities. Events are held throughout the year and training and resources are available on how to start and organize a Fun Times group in your community.
Parks - Minnesota
- Department of Natural Resources: Accessible Outdoors
Information about the Minnesota DNR and its services for people with disabilities. Their webpage will give you accessible places to go (e.g., state forests, parks, trails and wildlife management areas), things to do (e.g., accessible state parks trails, camping, fishing, and hunting) and what to know (e.g., accessible recreations organizations, MCV audio edition info, power driven mobility devices in DNR facilities, and special permits and licenses).
- Explore Minnesota | 1.888.868.7476
A searchable website for sports activities and travel in Minnesota. You can filter your responses to find accessible parks, campgrounds, trails, and etc., across Minnesota, such as:
- Boom Island Park – Accessible park located in northeast Minneapolis. Includes three picnic shelters with electricity, nearby parking, bike pathways, and more.
- Columbia Park – Accessible park located in northeast Minneapolis. Includes one picnic shelter, outdoor grills, two tennis courts, and more.
- North Mississippi Park – Accessible park located in north Minneapolis with 1.3 miles of pathways and a gorgeous view of the Mississippi River.
- Theodore Wirth Park – Fully accessible beach located in Theodore Wirth Park in Golden Valley, Minn., but part of the Minneapolis Park System. Includes mats specifically designed for wheelchair and walker access.
Quality Mall Recreation and Leisure Resources
Contains information about creative and innovative recreation and leisure programs and opportunities throughout the country, including those for individuals with disabilities.
Saint David’s Adventure Program | 952.548.8700
A community-based therapeutic recreation program for teens and young adults ages 11 and up with special needs. Through after-school and summer programming, participants experience new activities in their community in a safe and therapeutic setting.
Saint David’s Destination…Anywhere! Program | 952.548.8700
An overnight respite experience for young adults ages 16 and up with developmental disabilities designed to provide respite for families and caregivers, and to help them make friends, become part of their community, and experience new things.
- Courage Center Alpine Ski and Snowboard | 612.775.2280
Get one-to-one instruction in adaptive skiing techniques that accommodate people with a variety of physical disabilities and visual impairments. Downhill skiing and snowboarding lessons are available for beginning to advanced skiers. A developmental race program is also offered. Locations are Trollhaugen, Welch Village, Afton Alps, Buck Hill, Hyland Ski and Snowboard Area, and Duluth.
- Padraig’s Place | 612.236.7177 or 612.889.7001
A local non-profit organization and Buck Hill Ski and Snowboard School have come together to provide a fun experience for skiers and snowboarders with both physical and cognitive disabilities. Padraig’s Place provides an opportunity to experience winter fun in a safe and family friendly atmosphere.
Special Olympics of Minnesota | 612.333.0999
Special Olympics Minnesota (SOMN) trainings and competitions happen all year in locations across the state. They offer 17 Olympic-style sports for children and adults with intellectual disabilities.
- Special Olympics Project UNIFY
Athletic opportunities for youth with and without intellectual disabilities to train and play together as teammates, creating communities of acceptance.
- Special Olympics Young Athletes
Sport and play program where children ages 2-1/2 to 7 with intellectual disabilities enjoy games and activities that develop motor skills and hand-eye coordination.
A collaboration of community organizations, the City of Saint Paul, and Saint Paul Public Schools that provides after-school and summer program resources for kids and teens in Saint Paul.
U.S. EWHA Power Hockey | 763.535.4736
Sports program that gives individuals who use power wheelchairs the opportunity to play competitive floor hockey.
U.S. Power Soccer
Sports program that provides individuals who use power wheelchairs the opportunity to play competitive soccer.
Veterans on the Lake | 1.800.777.7538
Recreational location that serves the needs of veterans of all abilities, plus active duty military and their families and friends.
We Love to Play | 612.730.4968
Adaptive sports program played at Courage Kenny Rehabilitation Institute in Golden Valley, Minn. The program is dedicated to providing recreational sports opportunities for youth and adults with disabilities.
Wilderness Inquiry | 612.676.9400
Wilderness Inquiry is a nonprofit adventure travel organization. They are all about access, inclusion, and opportunity, creating opportunities for people with disabilities to more thoroughly experience nature. They operate in a manner that facilitates full participation by everyone, including people of all backgrounds, ages, and abilities.
YMCA Twin Cities Swim Program
The Y offers adaptive lessons modified for individuals with disabilities. An individual assessment will be done by a certified instructor in order to determine placement in swim lessons. Parent participation may be required for some youth programs. Contact locations for details.