Adaptive Sport Programs and Recreation Resources for Children with Disabilities

Individuals with intellectual and physical disabilities experience problems with their overall health including higher rates of obesity when compared to their typically developing peers. Obesity is a worldwide health concern that is not often tracked in children and youth with disabilities over their lifespan. Children with physical or intellectual disabilities are likely to participate less frequently in recreational activity when compared to typically developing children, even though participation in recreational physical activity is shown to have an association with improved quality of life, mood, and overall health status.

Adaptive sports are recreational or competitive sports that are designed for those with disabilities. Adaptive sports are often similarly run like typical sport activities, but they allow for certain modifications that are necessary for people with disabilities to participate. Participating in adaptive sports can improve a child’s social support system, physical and mental health, and give them another area in their life where they get to have fun!

Adaptive sports can serve as an adjunct in rehabilitation and provide children with disabilities an avenue to improve their overall physical and mental wellness and positively impact their quality of life for years to come.

Below is a partial list of adaptive sport programs and various city resources focused on adaptive recreation in the Greater Phoenix area that include children of all levels of disabilities:

Ability360 (Phoenix, AZ)

  • 45,000 square foot adapted gym, with wheelchair accessible weight machines and accessible aquatic center, indoor courts, climbing wall, and indoor track
  • Membership fees (youth up to 18): Monthly $25, Daily $5
  • Scholarship applications available
    • Youth Wheelchair Basketball

Arizona Disabled Sports (Mesa, AZ)

  • Accessible pool with chairlifts
  • Lap pool with lowered bench for transfer from wheelchair to pool
  • Team Mesa—Adaptive Sports Program (aquatics, bocce ball, bowling, basketball, golf, floor hockey, cheerleading, soccer, tennis, track and field)
    • Ages 8 and older
    • Wheelchair Basketball (ages 6-12 and 13-18)
      • Rentals available
    • $25/sport, $35 for power soccer and wheelchair basketball (longer season)
    • Equipment rentals year round— $30/month, $74/ 3 months
      • Fitting and safety training provided for free
      • Individuals must transport and sign loan agreement
        • Court sport wheelchairs
        • Racing wheelchairs
        • Hand cycles
        • Tandem bicycles
        • Recumbent Tadpole Cycle, and more!

Paladin Sports Outreach — Mighty Pals Sports (San Tan Valley, AZ)

  • T-Ball, Flag Football, Basketball (ages 3-12), Soccer (ages 5-12)
  • All programs are FREE, 6 game season (Basketball 4 game season)
  • Each child receives t-shirt, cap or ball, picture and award
    • Saturday mornings @ JO Combs Traditional Academy
      • Basketball — Tuesdays 4:15pm @ Circle Cross Gym
    • T-ball — Fielding glove required, cleats and bat are optional
    • Flag Football — Cleats optional
    • Soccer — Shin guards and socks over required, cleats encouraged
    • Basketball — Athletic shoes required

TOP Soccer (Phoenix, AZ) — The Outreach Program for Soccer

Arizona Sports Complex — Sunshine League (Glendale, AZ)

The Miracle League of Arizona (Scottsdale, AZ)

  • FREE, only have to register online
  • Jersey and cap for each player registered
  • Adaptive baseball at an accessible stadium
    • Custom rubberized turf for wheelchairs and other assistive devices, accessible dugout areas and batting cages
    • Adaptive playground
    • Accessible restrooms, picnic areas

AZ on the Rocks (Scottsdale, AZ)

Foundation for Blind Children Adaptive Recreation SHARP Program

  • The Sports, Habilitation, Art & Recreation Program (SHARP) is an open-entry, open-exit program for blind and visually impaired school age children. The SHARP program is held on Saturdays during the school year and each Saturday there is a different activity, such as goalball, beep baseball, cooking, art, fitness and more. The program provides multiple opportunities for blind and visually impaired children to develop hobbies, friend, interests and independence.

Special Olympics Arizona

  • Year-round sports training, competitions and support programs for people with intellectual disabilities. 21 different sports from e-gaming to powerlifting.
  • Arizona holds 5 state events annually

City of Phoenix Adaptive Recreation

City of Mesa Adaptive Recreation

City of Glendale Adaptive Recreation

City of Chandler Therapeutic Recreation Program

City of Surprise Adaptive Recreation

If you would like your program listed, please contact us at!