Thriving, Not Just Surviving

By Kristin West
Photography Courtesy of NSCD

A NEW ADAPTIVE PROGRAM center at Jefferson County Fairgrounds brings beloved outdoor activities to Coloradans living with disabilities

The National Sports Center for the Disabled (NSCD) has helped individuals living with disabilities rekindle or discover the joy of outdoor sports for the last 54 years. This spring, the NSCD expands its reach and offers more programs from one new central location, the NSCD Adaptive Program Center at the Jefferson County Fairgrounds.

NSCD president and CEO, Julie Taulman, says the new location will allow them to be more efficient and serve more participants at one time. “Being able to store all our equipment and host groups in one place is going to be key,” she says. 

Activities at the NSCD Adaptive Program Center are basically anything you can think of as a Colorado outdoor enthusiast including archery, rock climbing, paddling, hiking and its newest additions, road cycling and mountain biking. Thanks to a private donor, the NSCD was able to fund a fleet of bikes, which will give participants the chance to explore their love or curiosity for mountain biking or cycling—something the organization says everyone should have access to in their lifetime. 

The joy of watching individuals have “aha” moments is what inspires the volunteers and staff at the NSCD the most, Taulman says. “Some of the participants are just learning how to live with their new disability, but we are here to teach them how to thrive. We help them learn to engage and socialize, to become independent and stay healthy, and really be in the outdoors and active,” she says. “When we see someone out paddling or cycling when they thought they would never do that again, that’s what it’s all about.” 

In addition to hosting private lessons, group lessons and hospital groups, the adaptive center will host school groups, a program which is grant funded and reaches many children who may not otherwise have access to the NSCD. “We show these kids that there are activities out there for them, that they don’t have to sit on the sidelines or be the sports manager; they can be part of the team,” Taulman says. 

Having an adaptive center in the Front Range aligns with the NSCD mission to empower individuals to partake in the joy of outdoor recreation, as it is surrounded by stunning Colorado mountains and greenery. Once participants master the skills they need in their chosen sport at the adaptive center, they can take their skills to the mountain adaptive trailways or other off-site locations, or they can continue to try new things at the adaptive center. “I think the participants will start to feel like our space at the Jefferson County Fairgrounds becomes their home away from home,” Taulman says. 

The NSCD is a nonprofit organization always looking for volunteers and donations to maintain its mission.

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