Challenge Alaska offers opportunity to test waters of wheelchair tennis

Nonprofit to host free event Wednesday evening; registration required
An open session to try out wheelchair tennis is being hosted this week in an effort to normalize adaptive sports for students in Anchorage.
Published: Sep. 28, 2021 at 8:08 PM AKDT|Updated: Sep. 29, 2021 at 9:23 AM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - As a nonprofit, Challenge Alaska – along with the Anchorage School District and Alaska School Activities Association – works to create programming for inclusive and adaptive sports. To that end there’s a “try it day” happening Wednesday evening for wheelchair users living in and around Anchorage to take a swing at wheelchair tennis.

“It’s open to all ages and all abilities,” said Challenge Alaska Executive Director Nate Boltz, “but first priority will be to individuals who use wheelchairs as their primary method of ambulation.”

Boltz’s daughter, Anna, who uses a wheelchair, participated in tennis this year for South Anchorage High School. Boltz said part of the inspiration for the wheelchair tennis opportunity is her, and all that adaptive sports have done for his family.

“We want to make sure that everybody realizes that anything is possible,” he said. “Disabilities shouldn’t define anybody; desires and aspirations should.”

This Wednesday evening, Boltz said, people can head to the Spenard Community Recreation Center in Anchorage to get fitted for participation in wheelchair tennis, and then try it out for an hour or so, from 7:15-8:45 p.m. Another open session will also take place on Oct. 6.

While Boltz said he’s excited about getting more people to try an adaptive sport, there’s a bigger mission behind the sport events.

“Challenge (Alaska) is working closely with ASAA and major school districts to lay down a framework foundation for adaptive inclusion,” he said, “into all the secondary education sports programs that make sense as part of the Paralympic movement.”

The event Wednesday is free and opened to all ages, Boltz said, but will hopefully be especially successful in reaching students as part of the larger goal of getting adaptive sports normalized through programming for middle and high school students.

Any potential participants are also asked to preregister for the event by calling (907) 344-7399, or signing up through a digital form on the Challenge Alaska website. The Spenard Community Recreation Center, where the event is being held, is located at 2020 W. 48th Ave. in Anchorage.

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