TAC Moves the Needle Forward
In collaboration with the Milwaukee County Parks, The Ability Center launched our ABILITY & OPPORTUNITY movement when we "Ramp(ed)Up" Bradford Beach in the summer of 2015. To date RampUpMKE has "opened" four Milwaukee County Parks for those impacted by disABILITIES: Bradford Beach (has beach accessible wheelchairs, Veterans Park (has three accessible handcylces -- check out with WheelFun Rentals), and Red Arrow & Wilson Parks (have four accessible ice-skating sleds). For more information and to join our grassroots movement visit our RampUp website at RampUpMKE.org
Wisconsin Adaptive Sports Association (WASA)
Originally envisioned as WASC, the Wisconsin Adaptive Sports Club was the vision of our Founder, Damian Buchman. Conversations for the WASC collaborative started in 2013, and included individuals from Milwaukee Recreation, GLASA, and Froedtert Memorial Lutheran Hospital at the table. After a brief hiatus, Damian and The Ability Center reimagined WASC in 2015, bringing together six of Southeastern Wisconsin's adaptive sports teams, two of which were funded by The Ability Center. With the financial and adaptive equipment support of The Ability Center, the Wisconsin Adaptive Sports Association (or WASA) was born.
The Ability Center is proud to support adaptive sports throughout Wisconsin, and we are honored that we were able to assist WASA in their development and provide more opportunity for adaptive athletes in our community. We look forward to the day when said athletes have the opportunity to be fit, active, and healthy in our facility. Until then we will continue to support programs around southeastern Wisconsin, just as we are today with MadCity Wheelchair Sports in Dane County.
Adaptive Scholastic Athletic Program (ASAP)
ASAP is a future external vision of The Ability Center, which would implement America’s first inclusive scholastic team athletic program, designed for 6th - 12th grade physically disABLED male & female student athletes, and provide them with their first opportunity to compete in the spirit of their school and ‘letter’ in up to 3 team sports.
While organizing and developing the full ASAP program, TAC will be hosting multi-sport day camps & clinics around Southeast Wisconsin to create awareness of the program and give our region a taste of what they’re in for.
Full Service, Fully Accessible
Athletic, fitness, and recreation opportunities are readily available at literally any time of day or night for the able-bodied public. Whether at your local fitness center, through the “Parks & Rec” department, or a local sports league, opportunities are abundant. For those with disabilities, on the other hand, opportunities are few and far between.
TAC will solve this disparity as a facility that puts those with disabilities and their families first, and provides the adaptive equipment necessary to allow full participation. From recreational fitness and athletics to elite competition, TAC will offer a multitude of opportunities for participants of all abilities.
It is nearly impossible to measure the wide-ranging positive effects sports can and do have on individuals of any age or ability. From teaching teamwork to improving physical health and breaking down barriers, sport opens doors to the world.
The Ability Center will help open these doors more widely (in some ways, quite literally) to people with disabilities by offering an extensive array of sporting opportunities in a revolutionary, passionate, inclusive, and adaptive environment. Many programs are common, but most will be outside the scope of traditional fitness and athletic facilities.
For instance, while most able-bodied participants need little more than a comfortable pair of gym shoes to take part in a sport like basketball, an athlete with a disability needs a special sport chair – which typically costs about $2,400. The Ability Center will help eliminate this barrier by providing as many sport chairs as possible available for use on site at no charge.
One of the keys to TAC’s success will be its ability to serve an otherwise under-served, untapped demographic: athletes with disabilities in search of tournaments and other athletic competition. Currently, the number of available facilities suitable for hosting athletic competitions for athletes with disabilities is very small – in fact, nearly non-existent.
TAC will help fill that gap by offering rental space to tournaments for both disabled and able-bodied athletes alike. This will benefit not only the athletes, but the Milwaukee area, as well. It is estimated that a minimum of 25% of the able-bodied teams and as many as 75% of the disabled teams will come from outside the area. This will mean an increase of approximately 27,000 tourists per year, providing a boon to area hotels, restaurants, retail stores, gas stations, etc. – not to mention an increase in state and local sales tax revenue.
Tournament fees will also provide a significant portion of The Ability Center’s general revenue stream.
Strength and Fitness
At a typical fitness center, a small percentage of the workout equipment may be appropriate for use by individuals with physical disabilities, but a vast majority of it caters specifically to able-bodied individuals. In addition, the equipment is often packed together tightly, in the interest of conserving space, that people in wheelchairs, on crutches, or otherwise have difficulty moving about, cannot move among the machines safely or easily. These factors create a frustrating and potentially dangerous situation for individuals who are therefore very limited in their equipment choices, or may be tempted to use non-accessible equipment in a dangerous way, without the proper training or supervision.
The Ability Center, virtually all of the exercise equipment will be suited for use by individuals with disabilities. It will feature a much higher percentage of cable-based machines, greater space between the machines to allow easier access, and – perhaps most importantly – trained personnel familiar with the physical and safety-related needs of individuals with disabilities.