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Meredith Holt, Published April 15 2013

Local park districts offer adaptive recreation programs

FARGO – Recreation specialist Jordan Clementson has heard parents of special-needs kids say things like, “We get a parks brochure and we don’t think it applies to us, so it goes in the garbage.”

But that’s not the case. The Fargo Park District, along with its West Fargo and Moorhead counterparts, offers sports and recreation opportunities for kids with disabilities.

Fargo has a year-round multiple sclerosis group, softball June through August, adaptive taekwondo, and summer camps for different age groups from 5 to 20.

Since they draw from the same population, the three local parks agencies coordinate and promote each other’s offerings.

West Fargo’s Camp-a-Day for kids ages 7 to 18 with special needs runs June 10-27. The group does arts and crafts, bowling and swimming and goes on field trips.

“If the family wants the child to participate, and they’re in a wheelchair, we’ll find a way – as long as it’s safe for them – to participate,” says recreation manager Lance Belisle.

Across the Red River, recreation program supervisor Melissa Discher says Moorhead’s adaptive aquatics class fills up quickly.

The buoyancy of the water allows children with mobility issues to do things they couldn’t do on land. She recalls one who made significant progress.

“As he became more comfortable and confident, he was able to do more. Last year, he was able to kick his legs, and by the end, he was walking the width of the pool with assistance,” Discher says.

For more information about Fargo’s adaptive recreation programs, call (701) 499-6060. For West Fargo’s, (701) 433-5360, and for Moorhead’s, (218) 299-5340.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Meredith Holt at (701) 241-5590