News & Announcements

Expanding Athletic Opportunities for Individuals with Disabilities

CSU develops adaptive lacrosse clinic for local children

Cleveland State University’s School of Health Sciences has partnered with the CSU Lacrosse Team to create an adaptive lacrosse clinic for individuals with disabilities. The effort seeks to enhance physical activity, socialization and athletics participation for children with cognitive, sensory and physical disabilities, while also providing a unique engaged learning opportunity for health science students and CSU student athletes.

“Game play is an extremely effective tool for assisting children with disabilities in increasing cognition and coordination, while helping them feel like normal kids,” says Joanna DeMarco, program director and associate college lecturer in CSU’s School of Health Sciences, who helped organize the clinic.

DeMarco had set up an adaptive lacrosse clinic in Olmstead Falls, where her two children play the sport. She saw an opportunity to expand that effort regionally and involve CSU undergraduate health science students and graduate occupational therapy students and partnered with then Viking head coach Dylan Sheridan to create a training program at CSU.

She recruited graduate occupational therapy students to develop a training guide for teaching lacrosse to individuals with special needs. The students then trained CSU lacrosse players to lead the adaptive clinics, the first of which was help on campus in October. It featured 11 participants with cognitive and sensory processing disorders. DeMarco and her students are now working with current CSU head lacrosse coach Andrew German to expand the program, including developing  training modules and adaptations for working with individuals with physical abilities and distributing these resources into the community. The next clinic is scheduled to be held in spring 2020.

“The opportunity to work with Dr Demarco and her team to bring their vision to life was an amazing experience,” German adds. “Cleveland State is built on engaged learning and this clinic was the epitome of bringing ideas, research and teamwork to life. Blending the academic side of campus with the athletics side was a total win-win for all of us, and we are excited about the future as this is just the beginning of something really special!”