There are sports out there for every age, gender and level of experience. Oregon Adaptive Sports (OAS) is a nonprofit organization that focuses on making sports also accessible for people with disabilities. Leah Persichilli, the program director of OAS, started out as a volunteer for the organization about six years ago.
OAS offers 10 sport programs year-round which is Alpine skiing, snowboarding, Nordic skiing, snowshoeing, cycling, mountain biking, hiking, golf, paddling and rock climbing.
Currently the programs are offered in Bend, Mt. Bachelor and Mt. Hoodoo, but they hope to continue reaching out to other places as well.
“OAS continues to grow to serve our community locally and throughout the (Pacific Northwest). We envision a day where we can be a true destination for adaptive sports in the PNW and across the country,” Persichilli said.
The athletic programs offer adaptive equipment, accessible transportation, and instructors available to help. OAS also offers classes to people of all ages with the youngest age they have had being 4 and the oldest being 101 years old.
“We serve everyone from ‘never-evers’ to elite athletes. We encourage all potential athletes to read through the essential eligibility requirements for each sport, lesson or event before signing up,” Persichilli said.
In order to help with expenses, all of the community summer classes were free this year and OAS constantly provides scholarships for athletes wanting to get involved in the programs.
There are also multiple opportunities available for those who want to volunteer through OAS, which Persichilli believes is the heart of the organization.
“Volunteer assistants work closely with an OAS instructor to handle equipment, aid the participant, and join in on the activity. Assistants follow the lead of an instructor to best support the student,” Persichilli said.
Those interested in volunteering must register online, pass a background test and attend training in order to be accepted.
Members in OAS, including Persichilli, focus on the idea of creating a welcoming environment outdoors with little restrictions and a high level of independence for all athletes.
Information for the sport programs and how to join can be found on their website at https://oregonadaptivesports.org.