Lakeshore Foundation Featured on ADA's 30th Anniversary

July 26, 2020 10:19 AM

Provided by Lisa Hilborn/Lakeshore Foundation

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The origins of Lakeshore Foundation in Birmingham, AL, stem from a multi-year evolution of sports programs. In the mid-1970s a wheelchair basketball program was created out of the Lakeshore Rehabilitation Hospital. The goal of the program was to give discharged rehabilitation patients the opportunity to be more physically active and prevent or reduce secondary health conditions associated with injuries. The wheelchair basketball program was very well received and led to more adapted sports, fitness and youth programs. In 1984, these community-based programs were compiled in to one entity, and Lakeshore Foundation was created.

Over time Lakeshore Foundation expanded to include anyone in the community or state living with a physical disability. Today Lakeshore has become an internationally renowned organization serving over 4,000 unique individuals annually through physical activity, sport, recreation, advocacy, policy and research.

The Americans with Disabilities Act became law on July 26, 1990. The purpose of the law is to ensure people with disabilities have the same rights and opportunities as people without disabilities. This year marks the 30th anniversary of the law. Lakeshore has positioned itself to promote the ideals of the ADA and works with other organizations to help create a more equal, accessible and inclusive society.

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Tennis at Lakeshore

In the early 2000s, Lakeshore was the host of the Lakeshore Foundation World Challenge. This high-level wheelchair tennis tournament attracted athletes from all over the world to compete in men’s, women’s, quad (individuals with limited hand and arm function) and youth divisions.

Today, the foundation is proud to offer adapted tennis opportunities to our members. Tennis is a great sport because it is one of the most inclusive in the world. Laskeshore’s program is designed to introduce people with disabilities to tennis and get them playing the sport more regularly. Lakeshore members who are interested in traveling and competing in wheelchair tennis opportunities are given the resources to be able to do so, including financial assistance, by the foundation.

Another well-received tennis program at Lakeshore is a run-roll doubles league. The program was started in 2017 with one division, and it has grown to include an advanced division and a beginner division. Non-Lakeshore members often compete with Lakeshore members and many non-members have been introduced to adapted sports through this program and enjoyed the athleticism and unique dynamics involved.

Lakeshore has also had the unique honor of hosting the USTA/ITF Camp of the Americas from 2017-2019. This camp provides youth with a physical disability who play wheelchair tennis to attend a week-long overnight camp where they work with top level wheelchair tennis coaches. Our most recent camp had over 40 athletes from four different countries represented.

COVID-19
In mid-March 2020, Lakeshore closed its site-based facilities and all programs according to state and local ordinances to limit spread of COVID-19. In early May, Lakeshore began reopening its main indoor facility on a limited basis, and in accordance with CDC and local safety, implemented social distancing and sanitizing measures.

In July, the facility re-opened an outdoor tennis program. A large majority of our members, according to the CDC, are considered vulnerable and are at high risk to experience severe symptoms if they contract the virus. As such, we have developed rigorous safety procedures, rules and tennis session guidelines to ensure players and staff will remain reasonably safe before, during and after play.

 

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