Valley GO! – a collaboration between California State University, Northridge’s Center of Achievement through Adaptive Physical Activity, the Aquatic Center, the Institute for Community Health and Wellbeing and the Triumph Foundation – has received a $111,675 grant from the United States Department of Veterans Affairs to extend the program through 2020.
Valley GO! provides an opportunity to move beyond the gym to a recreational setting. It was created to provide access adaptive sports for veterans and community members with spinal cord injury (SCI) and other disabilities. The grant will help the program pay for coaches, facility use and specialized equipment, such as hand cycles, adapted seats, paddles and waterskis.
“Physical activity doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to have a complete able body,” said Terri Todd, principal investigator for Valley GO! and director of clinical operations at the Center of Achievement. “You can participate in physical activities even if you have limitations. I think it’s a wonderful opportunity for CSUN students to be able to be involved with this and I think that’s what I see the most impactful for me – being able to provide this opportunity to students.”
Hand cycling is considered a good source of cardiovascular exercise for individuals with SCI. SCI causes people to suffer paralysis depending on their level of injury and severity of the damage. After the injury, the body suffers spinal shock which causes the body’s normal functions to shut down.
The Center of Achievement serves over 400 individuals each week teaching students to work hands on individuals with disabilities. They offer monthly clinics that allow participants to attend on a regular basis to continue developing their skills in hand cycling, adapted kayaking, canoeing and waterskiing opportunities.
“I think it’s an important learning curve for our students,” said Todd. “It provides the opportunity for participants to learn new skills.”
The Triumph Foundation is a non-profit organization that helps children, adults, and veterans with SCI by providing adaptive recreation services to minimize the obstacles one faces after suffering traumatic injury. They provide resources and referrals to help equip those who are newly disabled.