Social Opportunities

Social experiences and recreation activities provide opportunities for improved physical, mental and spiritual well-being as well as improvements in physical functioning, independence, and self-esteem/self-image. Young children learn and master developmental milestones through social play. During the teenage years, structured social opportunities can provide a relatively-safe way for young adults to test boundaries, learn about themselves, and develop their self-identity. It is important for young adults to have and engage in social outlets in areas of their interests e.g. arts, crafts, dances, and recreational pursuits. However, many people with disabilities have difficulty engaging in social opportunities outside of the home. These activities can be an opportunity to develop social support networks with peers with and without disabilities.
If adapted equipment is needed for the individual to engage in an area of interest, consider a physical therapy or occupational therapy consult. In many circumstances, readily available athletic equipment and toys can be adapted by the individual (or their parents) to better serve his or her needs in a social setting.

Play Groups

For young children, play groups can provide opportunities for children to develop social skills, master developmental milestones, and meet new friends. Parents also have the opportunities to meet other parents and take a break from routines. For more information about play groups, see the Additional Early Services page.

Faith-Based Organizations

While many parents consider enrolling their children in faith-based classes, those organizations often offer social and recreational activities along with or in addition to the classes. For more information about opportunities provided by faith-based organizations, see the Spiritual Needs page.

School Sports and Clubs

Most schools offer some types of sports teams. They may include basketball, softball, baseball, swimming, track, soccer, golf, tennis, lacrosse, cheerleading, dance, football, and other sports. Participating in sports teams may satisfy physical education requirements, help with some medical conditions that benefit from physical activity, and provide after-school supervision. School clubs may include activities like chess, band, debate, academic subjects, and service clubs. Clubs often provide teacher supervision but may be less structured than sports teams. Both sports and clubs help children and youth develop social and team skills. They often encourage or require students to compete with other schools, providing opportunities for traveling and meeting new friends. These groups often require additional school fees, equipment, and time away from studying and family, and transportation arrangements. Some school activities allow a peer tutor to assist with members who have disabilities to participate.

Recreational Groups and Leagues

Cities, counties, and other community groups may offer inclusive or disability friendly sports leagues or activity groups. These may include softball, basketball, soccer, and other sports teams that compete against other community teams. They may also include hiking, crafts, and theater groups that arrange trips, teach new skills, and provide exposure to the arts. While some of these groups may be less formal than school organizations, there may still be additional costs, time, and travel requirements for the youth and family.

Volunteer Organizations

While many people think of faith-based organizations and school groups when they think of volunteer organizations, there are other community groups and businesses that offer youth the opportunity to serve others. Hospitals, businesses, non-profit organizations, and social organizations offer a variety of opportunities to meet new people and experience different occupational settings. A youth who wants to be a pilot could volunteer for the civil air patrol while a youth who wants to be a doctor could volunteer in a hospital. Youth can volunteer to help build houses, plant trees, deliver meals, provide disaster relief, assist with local emergency services, help with fundraising, participate in parades, help with theater groups, or other activities. The amount of structure varies from very little supervision to unpaid-employee status. There may be strict schedules and time requirements or schedules may vary based on local emergencies.

Employment Opportunities

While employment may be considered work or a way to get a paycheck, jobs also provide social opportunities. Fellow employees become friends and some employers offer benefits such as sport teams, picnics, discounts at local events, and travel opportunities. For more information, see the Employment/Daytime Activities page.


Information & Support

For Parents and Patients

Art Access/VSA Utah
Art Access/VSA Utah provides equal opportunities to inclusive arts programming for Utahns with disabilities and those with limited access to the arts.

Best Buddies
Best Buddies® creates opportunities for one-to-one friendships, integrated employment and leadership development for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD).

Miracle League Adaptive Youth Baseball
The Miracle League provides opportunities for children and young adults with disabilities to play Miracle League baseball, regardless of their abilities. Presently there are over 300 Miracle League Organizations around the world including Puerto Rico, Canada and Australia.

Murray Greenhouse Foundation
For individuals with disabilities age 22 and older, teaches independent living and employment skills through work in a greenhouse. A safe place for a disabled young adult to learn and enjoy a social outlet.

National Ability Center
The National Ability Center empowers individuals of all abilities by building self-esteem, confidence and lifetime skills through sport, recreation and educational programs. The NAC provides scholarships to 100% of those who request them, and keeps program fees affordable. Located in Park City, Utah.

National Organization on Disability (NOD)
NOD encourages people with disabilities to participate in all aspects of life and offers a variety of programs related to emergency preparedness, employment, accessibility, and more.

AAPD Interfaith Initiative
The Interfaith Initiative of the American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD) provides: 1) Assistance in organizing a community-building "That All May Worship" conference bringing the disability community into dialogue with the religious community at the local level; 2) Opportunities for religious leaders to understand and support the disability agenda and to eliminate ongoing barriers to full participation of people with disabilities at the local, state, national and international levels; 3) Problem solving assistance for congregations and seminaries that have questions about program and building access.

Salt Lake County Parks and Recreation Adaptive Programs
Adaptive recreation programs designed for individuals with special needs, however, everyone is welcome to participate in any program or class. This site lists socialization activities, classes, sports, and other adaptive programs in the Salt Lake Valley.

Utah Foundation for the Blind and Visually Impaired
Dedicated to serving the blind children, youth, and young adults of Utah, the Foundation provides training and instructional programs in areas such as independent living, athletics, and recreation for the purpose of enhancing the lives and capabilities of those served.


After School Programs

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Camps for Children with Special Needs

See all Camps for Children with Special Needs services providers (52) in our database.

Community Service Opportunities

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Disability Related Employment Programs

See all Disability Related Employment Programs services providers (142) in our database.

Disability Related Sports

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Ethnic, Religious, Cultural Support

See all Ethnic, Religious, Cultural Support services providers (56) in our database.

Recreational Activities/Sports

See all Recreational Activities/Sports services providers (87) in our database.

Recreational/Leisure/Arts Instruction

See all Recreational/Leisure/Arts Instruction services providers (24) in our database.

School Districts

See all School Districts services providers (53) in our database.

Social & Recreational Opportunities

See all Social & Recreational Opportunities services providers (17) in our database.

Youth Development

See all Youth Development services providers (107) in our database.

For other services related to this condition, browse our Services categories or search our database.

Authors & Reviewers

Initial Publication: September 2013; Last Update: October 2013
Current Authors and Reviewers (click on name for bio):
Author: Alfred N. Romeo, RN, PhD