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The Benefits of Participating in Challenge Programs
Challenge participant takes a break after climbing to the first platform on the accessible climbing tower. (Photo by Bradford Woods.)
Participating in challenge programs can be beneficial in many ways as
participants are pushed to their limits physically, mentally, and emotionally.
Challenge programs provide adventure that engages participants fully in activities that are
typically outside of the everyday routine. People with disabilities have often
either been discouraged from participating in these types of activities due to the perception
that they were not "up to the challenge" due to their disability or due to discouragement
by those who view themselves as their protectors (Terry, 1995). Universal challenge is a
vehicle for people with disabilities to experience the adventure that has long been denied
them and to see exactly what participating in challenge programs can lead to:
This video clip shows a participant being raised up to a high challenge element by fellow participants as
he sits in a booty-bag. Video courtesy of Bradford Woods.
Participants can increase self-awareness
interacting outside of
a disability-oriented context: by exploring their physical‚ intellectual and social
abilities; and by experiencing how one’s behavior effects others.
Participants are placed in an environment in which the emphasis is on
experimentation, creativity and in learning by doing
and reflecting on the experience.
Participants can enhance their understanding of the natural environment
and increase their sense of responsibility for its preservation. A person with a disability may
shift his or her beliefs about the outdoors as a result of positive experiences in that environment.
Other benefits of participating in challenge programs:
A group of challenge participants work on their communication and teamwork skills as they traverse the
- Participants get to try new things and learn new skills that they can take back to
their every day lives.
- Participants learn and practice teamwork skills (communication, problem solving, and
- Participants can learn to trust others and themselves.
- Participants develop and work towards their personal goals (self-determination and
- Participants can increase their self-image and self-confidence levels as they gain
a sense of personal achievement through participation.
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