Team Sports as a Tool for Building Job Awareness in Blind Children
Have you and your child noticed the similarities between team sports and the workforce? Both involve a group of individuals putting forth effort to achieve a common goal. Both involve each team member contributing a unique job function, and both are run by a leader (i.e. boss or coach).
In addition to being enjoyable, team sports will prepare a young person for many aspects of adulthood, including employment. Consider how your child’s participation in a team sport (or other group activity such as joining the school band or drama team) prepares your child for paid work.
- Practice following the directions of an authority figure.
- Learn how to handle success and failure.
- Hone social skills during time with teammates.
- Practice making decisions in fast-paced situations.
- Learn to take risks.
- Learn about leadership by observing coaches and team captains. You can help your child talk through the strengths and limitations of different people’s leadership styles.
- Work alongside who may or may not be likable or for a coach your child does not adore.
- Learn that practice improves performance.
- Learn to show up to practices and games even when your child does not feel like attending.
- Gain a sense of cohesiveness as team members work together.
- Learn the stress relief effects of physical exertion.
Note that the hyperlinks will open related lesson plans from AFB’s CareerConnect. You may wish to use them to gather further information and instructional ideas.
Now that we have established how team sports prepare a child for certain aspects of employment, let’s examine how to include a child who is visually impaired in team sports.
- Pre-teach basic movements and rules required for each sport.
- Teach your child to politely ask a coach if newly learned movements are completed properly. Consider coming to practice a few minutes early or staying after practice for individual assistance.
- Adapt any inaccessible equipment. This may include using color contrasting equipment or equipment providing audio cues. Work with your child’s teacher of students with visual impairments and search the Internet for solutions.
- If necessary, provide adaptations to the floor or ground to create well-defined boundaries.
- Consider the lighting. If your child is sensitive to light, utilize hats and sunglasses. If the indoor court is too dimly lit for your child, find out how you can increase the light.
- To become acquainted with the environment, give your child access to the field or court before game season.
- If your child is only able to perform specific functions for the team, talk with the coaches about your child’s participation in as much as he is capable.
- Consider sports that are extremely simple to modify: swimming, running (with a partner), bicycling (tandem), weightlifting, wrestling, bowling, dancing, gymnastics, etc.
For inspiration, read APH CareerConnect’s blog post, “Young National Champion Horseback Rider Who Is Legally Blind Brings It In Competition” and look through CareerConnect’s sports and athletics segment of the “Our Stories” section.