Extracurricular Activities and Hobbies: The Positive Effect They Have for Individuals with Disabilities

By Vane Carvelli

Living with a disability such as hydrocephalus while trying to balance our personal and professional aspects in life is no easy feat.

It is no wonder many times, we may feel stressed and exhausted when the things we face get to be overwhelming for us. Along with having a strong support team which includes family, friends as well as a great medical team, it’s important to find a healthy outlet to channel emotions we may be experiencing in a positive and productive way to help us along our journey. Having and taking part in extracurricular activities and hobbies is a great way to do just that.

With so much going on around us and the routines of daily treatments and medical appointments, having a fun side activity is a great way to de-stress, and it can enhance our creativity and improve our well-being. Children with disabilities particularly benefit tremendously. Releasing all that energy they have inside can make it a little easier for parents, giving them some time to relax while their child is having loads of fun making new friends and learning to embrace their differences.

Find Your Natural Talents and Interests

To find a new hobby or extracurricular activity, give careful thought and consideration to what your interests are, the skills you may already possess, or if there is a new skill, such as painting or playing the guitar, that you want to learn. In case you are not sure what natural talents you may have or what strong skills you already possess, don’t hesitate to ask someone close to you who knows you well such as a relative or close friend who can provide you very useful feedback in helping you choose what hobby or extracurricular activity would be a great fit for you.

Physical Side

Take into consideration the physical side of what you may have in mind doing and don’t forget to keep an open mind. No one better than you knows your physical capabilities and what you feel comfortable doing, so don’t close yourself or be too hard on yourself if the idea of perhaps being in marathons or doing ball-room dancing feels a little overwhelming to you. I personally recall when I was a young girl, I was fixed on the idea of being in gymnastics. I had 3 spinal surgeries throughout the years that also included foot surgeries which did complicate quite a bit that specific sport I had chosen. Fortunately, my mother pointed out to me my natural talent for writing poetry and essays and I began writing instead which ended up bringing me much satisfaction throughout the years. So moral of the story, don’t limit your options!

Ask and Observe

If you need a little more guidance in choosing a hobby or an extracurricular activity, a tip is to ask and observe what other individuals with the same or similar disability you have are participating in. Many hobbies and activities can be modified to facilitate participation such as wheelchair basketball, tennis and even rugby, and there is painting, sculpting, drama, and writing. Even attending poetry nights can be very enjoyable for those interested in the arts. A good recommendation from someone you trust with a similar disability can go a long way in helping you choose the right hobby or extracurricular activity for you.

New Connections

A big benefit of getting involved in an extracurricular activity or a hobby is how it opens the doors to many new connections. You will share mutual interest in the activity or hobby you have chosen and you will also come into contact with individuals from all walks of life. Many individuals with disabilities have a very restricted social life and don’t get the opportunity to go out there and meet new persons. By expanding our horizons, we open ourselves to new and rewarding relationships that can help us greatly in many moments throughout our journey. Children also get the opportunity to practice their social skills and meet other children making new friendships while embracing their differences.

Self-Esteem Boost

There is no doubt as you have fun and naturally see yourself progressing in whatever activity or extracurricular activity you participate in, you will naturally feel great on the inside and of yourself! As individuals with disabilities, we many times have so much going on around us in our lives, that we may forget all the great things about us and unique qualities we possess that makes us special! Having your loved ones supporting your endeavors goes a long way too and reminds you that no matter what adversities you may face, you are capable of accomplishing so much.

We must focus on our ABILITY not our disability!