With over 1 billion people worldwide with a diagnosis, inclusion programs are becoming more popular as acceptance for inclusion is rising. But before I delve into a remarkable experience, let me take you back a day prior when I embarked on a journey to Granville, Florida, for a Gymnastics Clinic. The beam training didn't go as planned; a momentary lapse in balance led to an unfortunate collision with the floor. Yet, the remarkable part was this: I chose not to rush to the ER that very day. Despite the pain, I recognized the significance of the Gymnastics Clinic in Gainesville, a goal set a year ago. The determination to attend outweighed the discomfort. It wasn't just about my brother Elijah taking the limelight; after all, his own gymnastics journey was kindled by my influence. It was only upon returning home that I sought medical attention. And, guess what? No fractures to dampen the story. Did the grin on my face give away the secret?
As a gymnast with a disability, my life brims with aspirations. The same doctors who once predicted a constrained vocabulary now see me as an author. Their forecast of limitations in engaging in typical childhood activities has been defied; I am both a role model and a gymnast. Whenever I'm placed before a camera, a radiant version of myself springs to life. But let's circle back to my trip to Gainesville.
Jill Bosack, representing DGA Tampa, orchestrated an enlightening USA Gymnastics HUGS Program Educational clinic. This gathering welcomed coaches, program leaders, and judges eager to explore the realm of adaptive and inclusive competitive avenues for gymnasts. A synergy formed among coaches and athletes from Leap South FL, DGA Tampa, Tampa Bay Rhythmic, and Balance 180. The Clinic orchestrated a platform for male and female gymnasts with disabilities to showcase the skills honed year-round. A collective workout session was followed by personalized sessions, during which my brother Elijah took center stage on the pommel horse and vault, while I commanded the beam and floor.
The Clinic included male and female gymnasts with a disability to demonstrate the skills we train for all year. We engaged in a group workout session and then broke into individual sessions. While my brother Elijah showed his skills on the pommel horse and vault, I was busy on the beam and floor.
Was I in pain? Yes! But I didn't tell the coach. I was there for a purpose, and there was no way she would let me sit out on this opportunity.
While watching the other athletes, I saw smiles. Those smiles represent happiness and being in their comfort zone.
During the Clinic, coaches could speak about their adaptive programs to USA gymnastics judges. Each coach discussed their training programs, skills, and abilities with the judges. Although many gymnasts have a limited ability to perform all skills, it doesn't mean we cannot try. After all, isn't that what teachers keep telling us in school, "Do your best"?
Balance 180 Instagram post states, "The performance during the exhibition showcase was beyond impressive." Their post further stated, "The joy we experience witnessing our athletes grow, learn, and positively impact the broader gymnastics community is indescribable. Moments like these reaffirm our unwavering dedication to empowering and fostering a more inclusive gymnastic environment for children of all abilities".
I enjoyed the Clinic; we demonstrated our skills and made friends. My social butterfly brother made friends with Jake, Jill Bosack's son, who wrote about Elijah being his friend on his first day of school.
As we enter competition season, I want to see more inclusion. I would like to see more Hugs Programs included throughout the world. My biggest dream is to travel the world through gymnastics, demonstrating my skills for girls and boys, that Anything is possible. Now, let me get back to training. My floor routine is challenging this year, but I got it.
Looking for Adaptive gymnastic programs?
Balance 180 - Gainesville, Fl
Leap South Fl - Miami, FL
DGA Tampa - Land O' Lakes, FL
Tampa Bay Rhythmics - Hillsborough, FL
Note from Publisher:
Madison Bishop and her brother, Elijah Bishop are not just gymnasts, they are also child authors of the Madison and Elijah Bishop series.
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