Walking outdoors is the single most common physical activity in the general population. Yet, what if you were unable to walk? There are currently 56.7 million people in the world with physical disabilities. For many of these people, a number of obstacles, including functional limitations, safety concerns and natural and built environmental barriers, inhibit their access to physical well-being. Furthermore, stereotypes, attitudes, assumptions and perceptions often combine to create a stigma around people with disabilities, adding yet another barrier. Over the years, adaptive sports have provided an outlet for disabled athletes to participate in sports and recreation in their communities across the world. Adaptive sports are based on existing able-bodied sports, but then modified to meet the needs of persons with a disability.
Michael Fenster, 16, was born without a tailbone — a condition called sacral agenesis — leaving him with partial paralysis in his legs. For the past 15 years, Michael and his family have participated in a sport that allows Michael to be his true self — sled hockey. With Michael playing, his father coaching, his mother serving as the general manager and his sister as the water girl, their family "lives, eats and breathes" hockey.
This story explores how the life a disabled athlete has been impacted, both physically and mentally, through his participation and experiences with the sport.