Thursday, June 27, 2013

AFA Supports First Air Force Wounded Warrior Adaptive Sports Camp at Joint Base Andrews

The Air Force Wounded Warrior Program hosted its first ever Adaptive Sports Camp for the east coast at Joint Base Andrews this past week. More than 30 Airmen participated in the two-day camp, which offered activities such as wheelchair basketball, sitting volleyball, archery, swimming, and track and field. This will be an annual camp, along with others held on the west coast and in the central region leading up to selection and training for the Warrior Games.

Airmen participating in the wheelchair basketball practice began with stretching and basic familiarity with the wheelchairs, which are designed specifically for this sport. Coach Bill Demby took participants through a series of drills that taught them the proper way to push the wheels, start, stop, spin, and weave through cones. Once they were comfortable with those skills, they moved on to passing and shooting drills, which elicited round after round of cheers and applause from everyone on the court.

Wounded Warriors learn to play wheelchair basketball during an Air Force Wounded Warrior Adaptive Sports Training Camp June 26, 2013, at Joint Base Andrews, Md. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Lauren Main)

Many of the Airmen at the camp at Andrews were participating in the Air Force Wounded Warrior program for the very first time. For some of them, this was the first time out of their house, on a plane, or even being away from their families and spouses since being enrolled in the program.

One of the goals of the program is to get the Warriors to overcome little hurdles of everyday life so they can reintegrate back in to a daily routine. The program also uses these sports camps to get Airmen to bond with their fellow Warriors who are facing similar challenges. They understand what the others are going through, and they can provide a network of support for each other as they continue through the process of recovery.

USAF athletes who won medals at the 2013 Wounded Warrior Games this past May were also present to serve as mentors and coaches. Eligible Wounded Warriors are welcome to participate in the selection camp in January 2014. If selected, they will participate in a training camp in March, and then in the 2014 Wounded Warrior Games in May. The selection and training camps as well as the Games are all held in Colorado Springs, Co.

The Adaptive Sports Camps came to the Air Force Wounded Warrior program in December of 2012 from Headquarter Services. This transfer integrated the program directly with its intended population: Wounded Airmen. Program staff look forward to working with thousands of warriors as they learn more about the program and how it can be a part of their healing process.

The AFW2 looks forward to expanding their Adaptive Sports Camps across the country. After Airmen participate in the camps, they return to their homebases and can continue their training with the help of Recovery Care Coordinators, Paralympic staff, and similar programs with other branches. An upcoming training camp in Hawaii will be a joint effort hosted with the Navy.

AFA is proud to form a partnership with the Air Force Wounded Warrior Adaptive Sports Program, and we look forward to supporting our Airmen Athletes as they continue to use sports and teamwork as a part of their recovery.

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