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special needs sports and all abilities activities

29 All Abilities Sports & Activities

from swimming and water fun to tennis and baseball

Summer fun is for everyone! We rounded up sports and other physical activities that are tailor-made for children who have special needs, whether that’s a physical difference, developmental disability, a sensory sensitivity or something else. Check out these 29 ideas to make it a memorable season.


1.Batter up! Miracle League DFW, which offers children and young adults with disabilities the opportunity to play baseball, is hosting hitting clinics in June and July. Before the summer is up, you can sign up for the fall season. Arlington; 817/733-6076


2. The Dallas Junior Wheelchair Mavericks offers some Saturday camps in June and July. The organization promotes fun and fitness, and gives children with disabilities an opportunity to thrive in a team environment. Dallas; 214/997-3193


3. Your child will shine as part of Express Cheer’s Shining Stars Members of the team wear the Express All-Star Uniform and perform at area events. The summer program includes stretching and skill-building; when school resumes, cheerleaders will work on a routine plus continue to develop jump, dance and tumbling moves, all according to the child’s ability. Frisco; 972/731-5888

4. Spirit Xtreme Rejoice is a co-ed cheer, dance and performance team for athletes with an intellectual or physical disability. Registration begins in June, while practices begin in August. Southlake; 817/251-8984


5. It’s all for one and one for all at the Fencing Institute of Texas. A recreational parafencing program at the Carrollton site is designed to help students learn the basics and have fun. It is primarily for individuals in wheelchairs and is open to age 6 and up. There are also programs for those with cognitive disabilities. Carrollton; 972/242-0399


6. Crull Fitness in Richardson provides a fitness training program for those with cognitive or physical disabilities. You can choose from personal training or group sessions. Champions Challenge is designed to give everyone a chance to train like an elite athlete. Richardson; 972/497-9900


7. Build your child’s gymnastics abilities with the Gymmie Kids program at ASI Gymnastics. Coaches work with children who have an intellectual disability, developmental delay, physical disability, traumatic brain injury or other special needs. Multiple locations

8. Enroll your kiddo in Palla’s Movement at The Palaestra Gymnastics in Farmers Branch. The class gives children with special needs the opportunity to participate in a developmental gymnastics program designed to boost physical, cognitive, social and emotional skills. Farmers Branch; 972/620-9922

9. You can introduce kiddos as young as 3 to gymnastics through Plano Parks & Recreation’s adapted gymnastic classes. Various sessions are planned; the earliest begins August 1. Plano; 972/941-7250

Horse Riding and Equine Therapy

10. Therapeutic horsemanship programs are offered to individuals with special needs at Equest. The organization’s therapeutic riding instructors teach equestrian skills to those with physical, cognitive, sensory, learning or emotional needs. For those who can’t or do not want to ride a horse, Equest offers therapeutic carriage driving. Equest also provides equine-assisted learning that is ground-only. Dallas; 972/412-1099

11. Try equine therapy through Amy’s Wish With Wings, which works with kids who have special needs. The program is located at Ride With Pride Horsemanship School. Southlake; 817/999-8332

Martial Arts

12. My Martial Arts in Dallas offers its Adaptive Training Program for children and adults with special needs. The program is designed to provide mental, emotional and physical benefits. There’s even a belt-ranking system for kids with special needs. Dallas; 469/284-8226

13. The instructors at Keller ATA Martial Arts have experience working with students who have autism, Down syndrome, cerebral palsy and other special needs. The school’s special abilities classes help build confidence, discipline and fitness; students can even participate in tournaments. Keller; 817/337-9493

Multi-Activity Groups

14. Canoeing, parasailing, wakeboarding, tubing, rugby and more—practically nothing is off limits for kids who spend their summer playing with RISE Adaptive Sports. The organization’s name comes from its mission to help those with physical challenges recover, inspire, succeed and empower themselves and others. All programs are free. Grapevine; 469/762-5075

15. Special Needs Gymnastics offers gymnastics and a whole lot more—swimming, cycling, fitness, art, music and life skills programs for children and young adults. Classes are designed to build physical, mental, emotional and social skills. Camps are available in addition to classes. Southlake; 806/438-3227

16. Teens with special needs will keep busy and have fun at the same time with Southlake’s Sports Saturdays Sports Saturdays (for age 14 and up) will let participants enjoy the outdoors and learn baseball, basketball, kickball and soccer. Go online for the schedule. Southlake; 817/748-8019

Nature Exploration

17. Let your older teen or young adult (ages 16–23) explore nature through Plano Parks & Recreation’s Adapted Outdoor Nature Camp. Oak Point Park and Nature Preserve provides the perfect setting for observing nature, using binoculars and doing other hands-on activities. Camps are scheduled for June and into early July. Plano; 972/941-7250

Swimming + Water Fun

18. Aqua Tots Swim Schools’ Special Needs Aquatic Program (S.N.A.P.) is dedicated to increasing water safety and enjoyment among children of all abilities. Contact your local Aqua Tots location for information on program availability. Multiple locations

19. While private lessons are available for children with special needs at Emler Swim School, the school integrates those kiddos into traditional group lessons if possible. Emler group lessons are kept small—four students per instructor for most classes, and six students per class when parents get in the water with their littles. Multiple locations

20. Book lessons with Mr. Kaleb—the head-swimmer-in-charge at Kaleb’s Swim Skool—for your child with special needs. Lessons take place in private pools across Tarrant County. Multiple locations; 817/925-8907 (text)

21. Arrange for a swim instructor to come to you through Sunsational Swim School, which offers a lesson program for students with autism, physical disabilities, ADHD and other special needs. Multiple locations; 888/788-2140

22. Some YMCA branches offer adaptive swim programs, designed to help swimmers gain confidence and feel more secure around the water. There are programs for preschool-age kiddos as well as youth and adults. Check with your local YMCA about its special needs offerings. Multiple locations

23. Mark your calendar for the special needs swim time at Hurst’s Central Aquatics Center. On June 18 (6:30–8:30pm), kids with special needs, families and caregivers get exclusive access to the pool at no cost. Hurst; 817/788-7327

24. Flipkick Swim Academy offers special abilities lessons for children as young as 3 months. The one-on-one lessons are 10 minutes in length, four days a week, over six weeks. Swimmers progress at their own rate and can learn everything from how to float and control breathing plus jumping and diving in the pool. Fort Worth and North Richland Hills; 817/438-4949

25. Irving Parks & Recreation gives members of the special-needs community the opportunity to swim without crowds through the monthly AquaStars program. It is open to age 18 and under, and participants must be accompanied by an adult. During summer, AquaStars is held at West Irving Aquatic Center, which has waterproof wheelchairs. Irving; 972/721-7311

26. Swim classes for individuals with special needs are available at AquaFit of Plano. The Monday classes are best suited to adults, as there is an aqua-fitness component; the Saturday classes are full swim and open to kids. A parent must be in the water with the child. Plano; 972/578-7946

27. Catch a wave on the FlowRider at Jack Carter Pool in Plano. The adapted FlowRider class is geared toward those with special needs (you must be at least 42 inches to ride the bodyboard and 48 inches to take a stand-up ride). There are options in June, July and August. Plano; 972/941-7250


28. Get on the court with ACEing Autism, a tennis program at the University of Texas at Dallas in Richardson. ACEing Autism is designed to help individuals with autism develop and benefit from social bonds and fitness. Summer programs are available for kids and adults June 5–July 17. Richardson; dallas@aceingautism.org


29. Yoga can have many benefits for those with special needs, including improving focus, self-regulation and strength. The Semones Family YMCA (Town North, Dallas) is offering a virtual adaptive yoga program that takes place weekly. Go online for Zoom session info. Virtual

Photo courtesy of Miracle League.