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Angel City Sports introduces athletes to adaptive sports

There were cheers and smiles in Studio City at the inaugural Angel City Sports Youth Competition.

The multi-sport event hopes to introduce young participants to the world of adaptive sports.

“I would say our heart is getting kids and adults with disabilities started with sport,” Clayton Frech, the co-founder of Angel City Sports, told NBCLA. “But if we can get them staying in sport, participating on an ongoing basis, then they could get so many other benefits.”

From blind soccer, wheelchair basketball and even track-and-field, young athletes had the chance to play and compete with each other.

Theo Dawson, 16, grew up as a competitive dancer but a rare disorder made her wheelchair dependent.

“Way more than any of the physical stuff, the biggest problem that I deal with is overcoming people’s expectations of me.”

Theo’s mother, Diane Dawson, recalled the first days of her daughter’s new reality.

“So many feelings – grief, anger, fear and then for me, I’m always really practical, very rapidly – determination to find whatever resources I could so that my child could participate again,” Dawson said.

Dawson says her daughter has always been “resilient” but events like the youth competition have made their world so much bigger.

“Whether it’s as a disabled athlete or as a volunteer, once you’re part of this community, you’re in it forever,” Dawson said. “And that is amazing.”

Mentoring these young athletes was Paralympian and current high jump world champion Ezra Frech. He wants Angel City Sports to help pave the way for the next generation.

“This is what fills my bucket, this sort of refuels my gas tank,” Frech said. “At the end of the day, we have to have motivators, we have to have purpose and meaning behind what we do, and these kids are my meaning behind what I go after.”

As parents cheered on their children jumping through barriers or racing to the finish line, a message of perseverance, community and hope shines through.

“I think that there needs to be more awareness around how much accessibility there is in sport,” Theo Dawson said. “I really love the community that we have here.”

Source: NBC Los Angeles

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