Letter of in Support of AB 2373-Pupils with exceptional needs: adaptive sports hubs pilot program

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My name is Michael Rosenkrantz and I am a co-founder of Palms to Pines Parasports dba SoCal Adaptive Sports.  My journey in the adaptive sports field has been 12+ years.  I started this journey when I was a Voluntary Services Overseas (VSO) volunteer in India in 2009 where I worked with the National Trust which is the part of the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment-Government of India.  It is in India where I became acquainted with the sport of wheelchair basketball leading me to becoming a coach.  In July of this year, I have the honor of coaching the USA Maccabi team in Israel.  As a person raised in a Jewish household this has great meaning for me as this will be my first trip to Israel. 

After spending three years in India (2009-12) I moved onto Nepal for four years where I continued to work with people with disability as a volunteer.  I helped to develop wheelchair basketball in the Country while working in a variety of opportunities. 

Upon returning to the US in 2016 I was as Assistant Women’s Wheelchair Basketball Coach at the University of Arizona and also helped to co-found Southern Arizona Adaptive Sports in Tucson where I also coached an adult team.  When my mother became sick, I moved back to California in 2017 and then went onto to be the Director of a school based adaptive sport program, everyBODY Plays NC (EBPNC) in Durham.  I also coached a youth wheelchair basketball team.  During my time in Durham with Bridge II Sports I worked with numerous NC State Legislators on EBPNC.

I moved back to my native California in late 2019 to be closer to my parents, they are now 93 and 89, but to also continue to work in the adaptive sport field.  In May 2020, along with others we incorporated Palms to Pines Parasports dba SoCal Adaptive Sports.  Along with our partners Desert Recreation District Adaptive and Friends of the Desert Mountains we offer adaptive sports in the Coachella Valley 5+ days/week including wheelchair and standing basketball, archery, boccia, tennis, pickleball, volley ball, on-line meditation/yoga/breathing and hiking.  In June we will start offering programs in the City of Riverside.  This coming weekend we are partnering with USA Wheelchair Softball, Miracle League of Orange County, Angel City Sports and Triumph Foundation in offering a wheelchair softball clinic with the hopes of starting a southern California wheelchair softball team.  (In California there is currently only one team-Sacramento.) 

In January I had approached Assemblymember Garcia’s office about the power of adaptive sports to change lives and level the playing field for people with disability.  We see sport as an entrée point to leading a fully life. 

There are numerous stories that I can tell you about how sport changes lives.  Kyra, a young woman with intellectual disability who is an incredible athlete is starting a program at UCLA in the fall.  Kyra participates in numerous sports and one can see on a daily basis her confidence, her ability to make friends, to be physically fit and emotionally healthy due to her participation in basketball, tennis, pickleball, hiking.  Joey is an athlete with spina bifida and has been consistent in learning and playing wheelchair basketball.  Brian has moved to Washington but continues to participate in our weekly meditation.  As his mother told me when they moved, “Brian continues to participate in sports and said to me that Coach Mike said that he needed to do this.”  Grace is a youngster who participates in archery, tennis, pickle ball and has begun to speak much more making her needs known.  On April 5 for the very first time after months and months of working with Grace she was able to “shoot” an arrow by herself.  On this very same day Yassin who is 10 was also able to “shoot” by himself for the very first time.  Showing this type of independence and learning brought tears to my eyes.

Sport is key in helping athletes to be fit-socially, emotionally and physically.  This is especially the case for people with disability who don’t have the same opportunities to participate as those who are able-bodied.  There are organizations working in the adapted sport field but we want to grow the opportunities and I believe that AB 2373 will help to do this eventually, throughout the entire State.

One of the major barriers to participation for people with disability is transportation.  Having lived in other countries I know that transportation is much more accessible in the US however we need to do more.  Developing adaptive sport hubs is one method for starting to remove transportation as a barrier to participation.

In starting SoCal Adaptive Sports one of my longer-term goals was to establish sport hubs throughout Riverside County and then throughout the southland.  These centralized hubs would consist of equipment, i.e. sport chairs, hand cycles, etc., which would be shared by adjacent municipalities.  In the longer-term one goal would then be to start developing sport teams in wheelchair basketball, boccia, tennis, etc., in order to create a southern California league.  The teams participating could then compete nationally in the National Wheelchair Basketball Association (NWBA), USA Wheelchair Softball, USA Boccia, etc.   California would be a real leader in the adaptive sport field if we are able to accomplish this.

As more and more youth (and adults) participate we would simultaneously get more California colleges involved with establishing adaptive sport programs.  As I write only San Diego State University has established collegiate level competitive teams.  (There aren’t that many colleges, about 30, throughout the Country actually offering adaptive sport opportunities.)  UCLA is on the cusp and doing great things.  I am hoping to get College of the Desert in Palm Desert to eventually establish a program as we have an introductory Adaptive Sport Day scheduled in collaboration with CSUSB-Palm Desert, sometime in October.  This creates a continuum so that California students will be able to stay in the State to continue their education and to play adaptive sports at a high level.   

AB 2373 offers schools the opportunity to provide adaptive sport days introducing every single student to these sports.  This would include wheelchair basketball, boccia, sitting volleyball, potentially goal ball and a disability etiquette piece.  This helps every student to become much more aware of what it takes to play adaptive sports, simultaneously finding more athletes to participate in adaptive sports.  Ultimately, we want to provide opportunities to create a more inclusive society based on greater understanding of others.  I’ve participated in and witnessed in North Carolina how this program changes students’ attitudes in a very short time period.

I can provide you with numerous statistics vis-à-vis people with disability and how sport can help to change lives through the many life lessons that one learns (and the health that it brings) by participating in sport.   I won’t do this now but when comparing people with disability with their able-bodied peers, health, financial status, quality of life and well-being are all impacted when we don’t provide the same access to everyBODY!

The key for me in AB 2373 is that it will create opportunities and level the playing field for people with disability.  In the long-term the ideas offered in the Bill will prove to be extremely effective in creating more access and inclusion!

Thank you for reading this letter. 


Michael J. Rosenkrantz, Executive Director, SoCal Adaptive Sports

Appendix 1

Sports for EveryBODY (SEB) Legislative History


Sports for EveryBODY has a history rooted in Federal Legislation.  Certain federal laws and regulations help ensure that children with disabilities are provided opportunities to participate in physical education (PE) and extracurricular athletics that are equal to those of other children.  

Section 504 of the 1973 Rehabilitation Act (Rehab Act) was the first disability civil rights law to be enacted in the United States. It prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities in programs that receive federal financial assistance, and set the stage for enactment of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA-1990). Section 504 works together with the ADA and Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA-1990) to protect children and adults with disabilities from exclusion, and unequal treatment in schools, jobs and the community.  

The goal of IDEA is to provide children with disabilities the same opportunity for education as those students who do not have a disability.  The IDEA mandates that states receiving federal grants under the act generally ensure that eligible elementary and secondary school students with disabilities receive a free appropriate public education, which is defined as certain special education and related services. Students with a range of disabilities are protected under IDEA, including those with cognitive or emotional disabilities and those with visual, hearing, or orthopedic impairments.

The Office for Civil Rights (OCR) of the U.S. Department of Education issued a Dear Colleague Letter on January 25, 2013 clarifying elementary, secondary, and postsecondary level schools’ responsibilities under the Rehab ActThe OCR Dear Colleague Letter helped to clarify the existing regulations and statutes under the Rehab Act to provide interscholastic, club, and intramural athletics for students with disabilities. The Rehab Act protects the rights of students with disabilities from discrimination in educational programs and activities in colleges and universities. The Rehab Act requires that students with disabilities be provided equal opportunity for participation in interscholastic, club, and intramural athletic programs offered by a school.

In its administration of these federal laws, the Department of Education (Education) provides oversight and assistance to states and local education agencies, including administering federal funds, monitoring IDEA and Section 504 compliance, and providing guidance and technical assistance. 

While the mandates under these laws and regulations are well intended, there were no guidelines offered as to how these programs can be implemented and how costs for these programs will be covered.

Palms to Pines Parasports is making these opportunities possible for our school aged children and youth with a variety of abilities. This program is offered through PPP to schools and other organizations that would like to experience the power of adapted sports designed for everyBODY and leads the way in providing programs and services creating further inclusion and opportunities to play.

Position: Lover of Life-Change Agent

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