Implementation of the A.B.L.E. Program (Athletes Believing Limits are Erased): An Occupational Therapy Doctoral Capstone Project

CHP Web Team
April 11, 2023
children with disabilities participate in water based activities

As a former collegiate athlete, I’ve always been grateful for everything sports have given me (i.e., joy, leadership, confidence, etc.). However, now that I’m in school for occupational therapy, I can’t help but look at my past participation in sports through a different set of lenses. Are the opportunities I received available for those with differing abilities? That’s when I decided to dive into the literature.

ABLE program participantAfter further investigation, I discovered that while participation in sports is beneficial for youth with disabilities, there are, unfortunately, a limited number of programs available for youth with more significant medical conditions (Ryan et al., 2014). Once the evidence-based literature confirmed my beliefs, I conducted a needs assessment to determine if this was also true in the Charleston community. As it turned out, it was. 81% of parents and 83% of the experts in children with medical complexities that I interviewed stated they didn’t believe there were enough opportunities for children with medical complexities to participate, and reap the benefits, of sports in their area. Thankfully, 86% of parents also agreed their child would be willing to participate if given the opportunity…and that’s when my program was born!

During my capstone semester, I have been able to partner with the Mount Pleasant Recreation Department in order to create and implement an adaptive sports program called the A.B.L.E. Program (Athletes Believing Limits are Erased). This program is designed specifically for children with medical complexities with the goal of ensuring that every child, regardless of ability, has the opportunity to participate in sports and recreation in his or her community. The sports we offered included kayaking, swimming, archery, fishing, track & field, bowling, bocce ball, kickball, baseball, dance, and yoga.

ABLE program participant and studentsI truly am grateful MUSC has given me the opportunity to creatively pursue my passions. Throughout this process I’ve learned how to advertise, train volunteers, implement a new program, and evaluate it effectively; it’s something I never would have dreamed of having the privilege or knowledge to do before starting this program! As an occupational therapy student, I was also able to give the Mount Pleasant Recreation Department ideas on how to adapt and grade activities for each individual ability level.

The feedback we’ve received so far has been incredible. I’ve watched children (and parents) gain confidence, find joy, and build long-lasting relationships. As I near graduation, I hope to give the Mount Pleasant Recreation Department the tools to continue this program when I’m gone. I can’t wait to watch the A.B.L.E. Program continue to grow and change lives!


By Sarah Grace Renner, OTS
OTD Class of 2023