That’s the simple-yet-powerful message of STRAPS (South Texas Regional Adaptive and Paralympic Sports), now launching its fifth year of sports competition at Morgan’s Wonderland, the world’s first theme park designed for those with disabilities and special needs and built to be enjoyed by everyone.
STRAPS sports take place at the Morgan’s Wonderland Event Center in Northeast San Antonio at the intersection of Wurzbach Parkway and Thousand Oaks Drive, a half-mile west of IH 35, or at the next-door STAR (South Texas Area Regional) Soccer Complex.
“STRAPS encourages athletes with physical disabilities to get moving, competing and enjoying improved fitness,” said Brooke Matula, STRAPS director. “They also become role models and mentors to others with physical disabilities because they promote character through active participation in sports.”
The program began in 2012 with three sports – Paralympic soccer, wheelchair soccer and powerchair soccer – and 50 athletes. Since then, five other sports – goalball for visually impaired athletes, wheelchair basketball for adults, junior-varsity basketball, wheelchair football, wheelchair softball and Boccia – have been added. Now STRAPS attracts more than 150 participants including wounded service members, military veterans and men and women of all ages.
“Our STRAPS athletes train and compete only four miles away from the San Antonio Military Medical Center and the Center for the Intrepid at Fort Sam Houston,” Matula said. “These entities are heavily involved in the rehabilitation of service members returning from combat. Since we place particular emphasis on offering sports that appeal to wounded and injured service members and veterans, those men and women make up about 40 percent of STRAPS athletes.”
STRAPS enjoys strong backing from the U. S. Olympic Committee, U. S. Paralympics and the Audie Murphy Veterans Administration Medical Center in San Antonio.
In April 2013, U. S. Paralympics recognized STRAPS as a sanctioned U. S. Paralympic Sports Club, Matula noted, and the program’s long-term vision is to achieve recognition as a national center of excellence for adaptive and Paralympic sports.
STRAPS, unique Morgan’s Wonderland theme park, The Academy at Morgan’s Wonderland school for students with special needs – as well as other initiatives to help the special-needs community – were created through the vision and leadership of The Gordon Hartman Family