Recreation Activities

Children can improve their physical, mental, and emotional health, and build their independence and self-esteem, by being active, including doing sports and other recreational activities. Children with disabilities participating in sports and recreation also promotes inclusion. Recreational activities like soccer, swimming, or singing in a choir can also help children and teens to make friends and have social time with peers. Staying active is needed to keep up muscle strength, flexibility, and joint function, and may slow the decline often linked to disability. We hope the information on this page will help you and your child to get involved in a variety of types of recreation.

Finding Recreation Activities

Finding local services that offer adaptive recreation programs can be the key to helping your child get involved. To find recreation services for people with disabilities:

  • Check with local parks and recreation centers, the YMCA, your child’s school, or Easter Seals to find out about the clubs, teams, summer camps, or other activities that might be fun for your child.
  • Check for your state on the Disabled Sports USA and Sports Abilities websites for more information on adaptive sports and recreation opportunities and events in your area like skiing, cycling, rock climbing, rafting, etc.
  • Look at the Medical Home Portal’s Adaptive Recreation Services category for organizations in your chosen region: see Adaptive Sports services providers in our database.

Helping Your Child Join In

Athletic equipment and toys can often be adapted to better serve your child. Occupational or physical therapists can help to make equipment work for your child.

Support your child in trying any activities that interest them. From downhill skiing, to creating art, to gardening, there’s bound to be something that is fun, exciting, and interesting for your child.

Physical Education

Physical education (PE) and recess activities at school are also important. The need for adapted PE and/or supports or social structuring on the playground should be addressed in the Individualized Education Program (IEP) for your child.

For more tips on adaptive sports and recreation activities, see the links below.


Information & Support

For Parents and Patients

Easter Seals Camping and Recreation for People with Disabilities
Easter Seals has 30 camps nationwide. Programs include both day camps and residential camps for children and adults, with many accessible activities that all campers can enjoy. These programs let campers discover and explore their interests, values and talents, while also creating lifelong memories, among so many other benefits.

VSA - The International Organization on Arts and Disabilities
VSA is an energetic national and international network of cultural and educational organizations developing socially sustainable programs that serve youth and adults with disabilities and the communities in which they reside.

The National Center on Health, Physical Activity and Disability (NCHPAD)
The NCHPAD identifies recreational resources for people with disabilities both nationally and internationally. Resources include organization directories, accessible recreation programs and facilities, adaptive equipment vendors, and links to journal articles, books, videos, and more. Fact sheets are available on a variety of activities for people with disabilities, fitness professionals, health professionals, and researchers.

Miracle League Adaptive Youth Baseball
The Miracle League provides opportunities for children and young adults with disabilities to play Miracle League baseball, regardless of their abilities. Presently there are over 300 Miracle League Organizations around the world including Puerto Rico, Canada and Australia.

Special Olympics USA
Provides year-round sports training and athletic competition for children and adults with intellectual disability, giving them continuing opportunities to develop physical fitness, demonstrate courage, experience joy, and participate in a sharing of gifts, skills and friendship with their families, other Special Olympics athletes, and the community.

Services for Patients & Families Nationwide (NW)

For services not listed above, browse our Services categories or search our database.

* number of provider listings may vary by how states categorize services, whether providers are listed by organization or individual, how services are organized in the state, and other factors; Nationwide (NW) providers are generally limited to web-based services, provider locator services, and organizations that serve children from across the nation.

Authors & Reviewers

Initial publication: July 2008; last update/revision: July 2023
Current Authors and Reviewers:
Author: Shena McAuliffe, MFA
Reviewer: Abby Dumas
Authoring history
2012: revision: Gina Pola-MoneyR
2008: first version: Alfred N. Romeo, RN, PhDR
AAuthor; CAContributing Author; SASenior Author; RReviewer