Discovering the adaptive world

Katherine Kerr 13

Photo courtesy of Wheelchair Basketball Belleville.

Pediatric occupational therapist and adaptive sports advocate

Katherine Kerr is a 2013 alum of the Utica College M.S. program in occupational therapy. In early 2015, she organized a wheelchair basketball league in her hometown of Belleville, Ontario, Canada. According to Katherine, the idea was inspired by her experience working with Utica’s Sitrin STARS adaptive sports program, part of her fieldwork while attending UC.

Katherine talked to us about why she chose Utica College’s graduate program in OT—and why adaptive sports matter:  

 

Discovering the Adaptive World

I was in undergrad, studying politics at Queen’s College in Ontario, when I had one of those “what am I doing with my life?” moments. I changed my major to health studies and was drawn to the world of adaptive sports. I liked how it’s all about inclusion. No matter your physical or cognitive state, you can participate. Everybody deserves to play whatever sport they want to play.

 

Thanks, Mom! 

I was researching graduate programs when my mom found the Sitrin STARS website and showed me. It looked amazing. I learned it was one of the fieldwork opportunities at Utica College, so I did more research about UC. I liked the small class size and that it was close to my hometown. Most of all, I was excited about this adaptive sports opportunity with Sitrin.

 

The Greatest Spirits

After I decided to attend UC, I got involved with the STARS almost immediately. I got to help with an adaptive shooting program and adaptive golf; I got involved in a curling tournament and traveled to Cape Cod with the Paralympic curling team; and I participated in an adaptive sports clinic in Lake Placid at the Olympic training center. I saw how sports changed the lives of the athletes. Some of them had been through tragic experiences—things I couldn’t imagine. They had the greatest spirits. It was amazing to be a part of that. I came back to Canada and said, “I want to bring a program like this to my hometown.”

 

The Right Path

I started a wheelchair basketball program at my local YMCA in February of this year, and it has taken off. Until now, there weren’t a lot of adaptive sports opportunities in the area, and people are excited about this idea. We’ve had people donate wheelchairs and other equipment, and various organizations have offered support. The whole community has gotten involved. We are now a weekly program, and the athletes love it. It has reaffirmed that this is the right career path for me.

Photo courtesy of Wheelchair Basketball Belleville. 

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