“Great shot, Samantha.”
“How we doing, Dash? Show me some backhands here.”
“Get those hands a little closer together, Andrew.”
Those are the words of instructor Dave Graham as he zig zags across the court shouting words of encouragement to the participants in the STRIDE Tennis program.
Each Sunday for the past 11 years Dave has made the trip from his home in Burnt Hills to SPORTIME in Schenectady to at first assist, and now lead the 20-week tennis program (he also directs the six-week outdoor tennis program that is held in the spring/summer).
STRIDE was founded in 1985 as an adaptive sports program designed to educate and empower children with special needs.
We expanded our mission a little over a decade ago to include another group of individuals struggling with physical and mental challenges – Wounded Warriors.
Looking back now, the potential of integrating the two groups seems obvious, but STRIDE’s warrior and youth programs initially ran independent of each other. We eventually began looking for opportunities to link the two groups, believing that participants might enjoy even greater benefits from working together.
The Union Dutchmen and Dutchwomen hockey teams are preparing to host the STRIDE Adaptive Sports Sled Warriors on December 10, 2019. The fun-filled evening takes place at the Frank L. Messa Rink at Achilles Center in Schenectady from 5:45 P.M to 7:00 P.M. The Union College hockey team is comprised of elite D1 players who will learn the importance of having humility by playing against the Sled Warriors. What is even more exciting is that both the men and women’s teams will play against the Sled Warriors in sleds! The public is highly encouraged to attend and enjoy a night filled with friendly competition, great sportsmanship, and many laughs. At the event, donations will be accepted to support the Sled Warrior’s hockey team with travel costs and game accommodations.
(11/8/19, West Sand Lake, NY) – GE Healthcare has made a substantial donation to STRIDE Adaptive Sports in support of the organization’s ongoing mission to empower people with disabilities. Their $ 6,600 donation will be allocated towards the purchase of a Cybex Bravo 8800 Advanced Compact Functional Trainer for the new SHARE Center fitness gym. This gift will help outfit the workout areas of the first-ever adaptive fitness center with specialized equipment for exercisers with mobility challenges.
GE Healthcare, a medical device manufacturer and service provider with a facility in Troy, NY and a subsidiary of General Electric Co., is committed to community engagement. GE Healthcare employees, mostly veterans, regularly volunteered to renovate the SHARE Center facility, known as the STRIDE Health and Recreation Education (SHARE) Center. The GE Healthcare volunteers completed extensive work such as electrical, building and grounds upkeep, and interior renovations. GE Healthcare has been dedicated to transforming the SHARE Center into a dynamic and inclusive space for all.
(11/11/2019, West Sand Lake, NY) –
On Veteran’s Day, the grand opening of the STRIDE Health and Recreation Education (SHARE) Center took place at the STRIDE headquarters in West Sand Lake. For the first time in Capital Region history, the newly renovated SHARE Center now functions as the premiere adaptive sports and fitness community center and gym. Many well-respected New York elected officials joined the CEO of STRIDE, Mary Ellen Whitney, in cutting the ribbon in honor of the official opening, including US Congressman Antonio Delgado, Rensselaer County Executive Steve McLaughlin, Assemblyman John McDonald, Assemblyman Jake Ashby, and several others. The generous support and donations from members of the Capital Region played a significant role in the final stages of completion, and without such backing the SHARE Center would not have been possible!
“Mom! Look, look,” shouts 12-year old Jayden before plunging under the water. A few seconds later he resurfaces with a watery grin, proudly hoisting the dive toy now in his hand.
Jayden is one of the participants in the STRIDE youth swim program, now in its 19th year. “He has gained so much confidence in the two years he’s been coming here,” says his mother, Kathy Bleyman. “I’m amazed every time I see him jump into the deep end.”
The program is offered in 10-week sessions, three times per year, at the Greenbush Area YMCA pool. Each of the participants (ages 5 and up) has special needs which may include physical and/or mental disabilities.
Where the swim program excels – like all STRIDE programs – is by “meeting participants where they’re at and progressing from there,” says coordinator Emelia Carlino. “Our number one goal is to help each swimmer feel comfortable and safe in the water.”
(Chatham, NY) – STRIDE Adaptive Sports operates an 85 acre accessible camp located in Chatham, NY. The camp, which had been vacant for many years, is host to many outdoor education programs for local Wounded Warriors and special needs children, to fully utilize the camping skills. STRIDE operates dozens of themed outdoor education programs and tent-camping during the summer, and pairs volunteers with STRIDE athletes with disabilities for a mentoring and rehabilitative experiences. The facility is also a retreat site used by Warriors and their families in addition to serving the hundreds of kids who participate in programs STRIDE offers tent-camping, hiking, archery, kayaking, snowshoeing, cross country skiing, and a lodge which offers a large space for trainings, seminars and retreats.
(09/21/19, Chatham, NY) – A group of children and teens with vision impairments from the Northeastern Association of the Blind (NABA) in Albany will be coming from as far north as Amsterdam and as far south as the Kingston area to a unique summer program in Chatham that specializes in serving people with disabilities. The STRIDE Center for Outdoor Recreation Education (SCORE) at 2182 State Route 203 will welcome the youth on Saturday, September 21st with a day of adaptive archery and yoga.
The goal of the program is to introduce the youth to new and fun activities and give them a chance to learn and experience the same recreational opportunities as their sighted peers. Archery for visually impaired requires special instruction. Certified archery coaches, lead by TSG (retired) Timothy McDonough, one of STRIDE’s Wounded Warriors; the students will use beeper sound targets and specially adapted bows for hitting the marks. TSG McDonough has competed and coached Paralympic athletes at the Warrior Games all over the world and will assist the students to learn the sport the way Olympic blind athletes shoot. Along with McDonough, two other certified archery coaches with disabilities, and an adaptive yoga teacher will lead the activities.
07/30/19 (West Sand Lake, NY) – Childhood obesity is on the rise and kids with disabilities tend to be less active than their classmates, but one lucky group of Capital Region kids with special needs spent their weekend in Chatham learning how exercise can be fun and encouraging.
It’s all part of an outdoor camping weekend called “Music and Movement,” and the goal is to make exercise more accessible for people with intellectual and physical disabilities. Music and Movement is offered every summer by STRIDE Adaptive Sports, a nonprofit organization that works to make life in the Capital Region more fun, healthy, and inclusive for people with disabilities. It’s one of six themed camping weekends at the STRIDE SCORE Camp in Chatham. Continue reading
07/23/19 (West Sand Lake, NY) – STRIDE Adaptive Sports announced today that Kim Wilson of Slingerlands has been named the organization’s Volunteer of the Year for 2019. Kim, who is the parent of STRIDE athlete and sled hockey player Luke Wilson, was given the award for founding the STRIDE sled hockey team, bringing it to new heights of recognition and success, and tirelessly supporting other STRIDE programs such as whitewater rafting and skiing.
According to Megan Evans, STRIDE’s Program Director, “Kim is truly the definition of a team player. Ten years ago, the Bethlehem Eagles were a fledgling hockey team for kids with mobility challenges. Kim reached out to STRIDE to help grow the program she began and today The Capital District Sled Warriors, STRIDE’s only team sport, is an unqualified success. She has continuously been the absolute best hockey mom for the past 10 years. Her dedication is an inspiration to the entire organization.” Continue reading