Resources - Leisure & Recreation


Florida State Parks
The Division of Recreation and Parks will ensure, to the greatest extent feasible, that all people, including persons with disabilities, receive the same program and activity opportunities. The Division of Recreation and Parks will take all reasonable steps to ensure effective communication with individuals having hearing and vision impairment or loss by providing appropriate auxiliary aids or alternate formats, in order to afford them the opportunity to participate in and enjoy the benefits of programs and activities. The Division of Recreation and Parks, however, is not required to take any actions or provide access that would result in a fundamental alteration to the nature of a program or activity.

Best Buddies
The mission of Best Buddies is to enhance the lives of people with intellectual disabilities by providing opportunities for one-to-one friendships and integrated employment. Best Buddies endeavors to establish meaningful one-to-one friendships with their peers without intellectual disabilities. These friendships help increase self-esteem, confidence and the abilities of people with and without intellectual disabilities.

Best Buddies envisions a world where people with intellectual disabilities are so successfully integrated into our schools, our workplaces and our general communities that our current efforts and services will be unnecessary. Until that vision becomes a reality, we will continue to educate students, community members, corporations and employers about emotional, functional and natural needs and abilities of people with intellectual disabilities. By 2010, Best Buddies will continue to build on its successful volunteer base in all 50 states, further expand its accredited international program to 50 countries and annually engage more than 500,000 people worldwide.

Florida Disabled Outdoor Association
Florida Disabled Outdoors Association enriches lives through accessible inclusive recreation and active leisure for all.

Little League Baseball - Challenger Division
The Challenger Division was established in 1989 as a separate division of Little League Baseball to enable boys and girls with physical and mental disabilities, ages 5-18 or the completion of high school, to enjoy the game of baseball along with the millions of other children who participate in this sport worldwide. Teams are set up according to abilities, rather than age, and can include as many as 15-20 players, who can participate in one of three levels: Tee-Ball, Coach-Pitch or Player Pitch.

Each player gets a chance at bat. The side is retired when the offense has batted through the roster, or when a pre-determined number of runs has been scored, or when three outs are recorded. Little League recommends that no score be kept during games. The Challenger players wear the same uniforms, shoulder patches and safety equipment as other Little League players. One of the benefits of having a Challenger Division is that it encourages the use of 'buddies' for the Challenger players. The buddies assist the Challenger players on the field but whenever possible, encourage the players to bat and make plays themselves. However, the buddy is always nearby to help when needed.

Local Parks and Recreation Departments
Most city and county Parks and Recreation Departments offer programs for persons with special needs. See below a list of types of programs offered throughout the state.

  • Social functions and events to provide opportunities for peer interaction in an appropriate social setting
  • Sports and athletics to teach or enhance skills and to promote physical activity, friendly competition, fun, and success in individual, duo and team activities
  • Leisure education to explore, examine and discover personal attitudes, interests and potential opportunities through experiential discussions and initiatives
  • Physical fitness programs to teach and improve general fitness in a group setting
  • General recreation to provide for the discovery and experience of a variety of activities that promote learning, skill development, creativity, life skills enhancement and enjoyment
  • Facilitate inclusion by working directly with potential participants, significant others and division staff to provide, as needed, resources, assistance, training, modifications and/or equipment that will enable persons with disabilities to actively participate in any division-wide program and event

To find out what is offered in your area, contact your city or county Parks and Recreation Department.

Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International (Formerly the North American Riding for Handicapped Association)
PATH International’s mission is to "change and enrich lives by promoting excellence in equine assisted activities." To accomplish this mission, it fosters safe, professional, ethical and therapeutic equine activities through education, communication, research and standards. The association ensures its standards are met through an accreditation process for centers and a certification process for instructors.

Special Olympics
Through year-round sports training and competition, Special Olympics empowers individuals with intellectual disabilities in more than 180 countries. Special Olympics often is the only place where they have an opportunity to participate in their communities and develop confidence in themselves. Transforming the athlete, Special Olympics sports are a gateway to empowerment, competence, acceptance and joy.

VSA Florida
This section contains resources on arts, education, and disability, as well as development and activities of VSA Arts.

The nation's 2,686 YMCAs respond to critical social needs by drawing on its collective strength as of one of the largest not-for-profit community service organizations in the United States. Today’s YMCAs serve thousands of U.S. communities, uniting 21 million children and adults of all ages, races, faiths, backgrounds, abilities and income levels. Its reach and impact can be seen in the millions of lives touched every year. Across the nation, YMCAs are committed to helping:

  • Children and youth deepen positive values, their commitment to service and their motivation to learn
  • Families build stronger bonds, spend time together and become more engaged with their communities
  • Individuals strengthen their spiritual, mental and physical well-being

At every stage of life, YMCAs are there to help children, families and individuals reach their full potential.

Independent Living Skills Curricula

There are many commercially produced products that will assist with the education of students with disabilities in the areas of shopping and financial management, health and safety, self-determination, and accessing and using public transportation, social and recreational facilities. Below is a list of frequently used curricula materials in the state of Florida.

Life Centered Education (LCE)
A comprehensive functional curriculum based on classroom, home, and community environments and is useful for elementary school through high school, including general education students; students with learning disabilities; students with mild mental disabilities; and students at risk.

Targeted Life Skills Curriculum
Curriculum aligned with both the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) and the Florida Department of Education's Sunshine State Standards and State Standards for Special Diploma, 2004. This curriculum is useful for elementary school through high school, including students with intellectual disabilities.

The Transitions Curriculum
This three-volume curriculum was extensively field-tested in California. It includes 300 teacher-developed and tested lessons, complete with 1500 sequenced "real life" objectives, exciting hands-on student activities, and 600 reproducible student worksheets and student self-assessments every five units. The product was designed with flexibility in mind -- instruction can be undertaken with individual units in a two-week period or expanded for a full two-year program.