With the 2018 Winter Paralympics right around the corner, the Enable team is not only excited to see the Games, but also the inspiring messages it perpetuates: inclusion and accessibility for all. In order to learn more about the importance of the Paralympics and its supporting organizations, we spoke with Jena Munson, a Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialist at CHI Health Immanuel Rehabilitation Institute-Paralympic Sport Omaha for an inside look at their important work.

What is The CHI Health Immanuel Rehabilitation Institute-Paralympic Sport Omaha, and what is its mission?

The Paralympic Sport Omaha is a joint venture with the Immanuel Rehab Institute, the Nebraska Adaptive Sports organization and the Great Plains Paralyzed Veterans of America. Together, the Club collaborates to offer multiple sport and recreation opportunities within the local community. Our mission is to promote community awareness, and create and provide access to opportunities for individual and team sports programming for adults and youth with physical disabilities, in order to enhance their quality of life.

How does your organization raise support and awareness?

The program offers multiple different adaptive sport and recreation opportunities weekly for persons with a physical disability. The therapists who run the program are continuously looking to identify others within the community who could benefit from the programs available.

What is the most rewarding part of your job?

The most rewarding part of my job is the opportunity to help engage a person back into life again after they have had a traumatic event occur that causes a permanent impairment. To be able to see the spark come alive again is an amazing experience.

What is the importance of the Paralympics? How can people further lend their support to this important cause?

 The Paralympics has heightened the awareness of the competitiveness of the Paralympic athlete, along with changing the way that society perceives a person with a physical impairment. Each Paralympian has a story, and a hurdle that they have overcome to get them to this elite level of athleticism necessary to achieve their dream of becoming a Paralympian. The Paralympics help to show the increased independence a person can have if they pour their heart into the thing they are passionate about. A person can support these athletes simply by educating others on what the Paralympics are. They can also support the local grassroots programs who work identifying those in the community who could also benefit from the program. Additionally, they can provide support by attending local competitions or by volunteering to assist with the programs financially or with their personal time.