CLEMSON — Faculty and students from Clemson University will partner with the Institute for Physical Education in Chiang Mai, Thailand, to implement the Adaptive Sports for Social Change project. This project will provide content knowledge on adaptive sports to more than 40 physical education students in Thailand, as well as firsthand experience implementing these sports with individuals with disabilities.

Jeff Townsend - Adaptive Sports

Jeff Townsend (right) with a Thai student learning wheelchair basketball. Townsend will accompany the Clemson group as a coach on their upcoming trip to Thailand.
Image Credit: Jeff Townsend

Jasmine Townsend, assistant professor of recreational therapy at Clemson, will lead the group during the six-day trip beginning on March 19. It includes instruction on coaching soccer, wheelchair tennis, swimming and goal ball, a team sport designed for athletes with visual impairments.

The program is delivered in partnership with the National Ability Center and funded through an International Sports Programming Initiative cooperative agreement through the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Education and Cultural Affairs’ Sports Diplomacy division.

The adaptive sport coaches and representatives from Clemson aim to further develop adaptive sport programs in Thailand while promoting inclusiveness in recreation. In addition to providing coaching skills, the program will aid coaches in working with people with disabilities and expanding awareness of their potential.

Adaptive Sports - Tennis

A Thai student prepares his serve on the tennis court in Thailand.
Image Credit: Jeff Townsend

Part of this program will see Townsend provide a classroom lecture series on adaptive sports curriculum for the institute’s faculty, which is intended to serve as a starting point for the development of adaptive sport courses for its students.

During the final phase of the program, Thai coaches will put their new knowledge to the test by coaching nearly 50 youth and young adults with disabilities from nearby areas schools. In addition, a group of 12 U.S. youth with disabilities and four chaperones will travel to Chiang Mai to join the Thai youth group to serve as role models and peer partners.


The National Ability Center
The National Ability Center provides world-class adaptive recreation and outdoor adventures for individuals and families of differing abilities, physical, cognitive and developmental, including competitive athletes, youth, veterans and more. Rooted in Park City, Utah, for more than 30 years, with additional facilities in Salt Lake City and Moab, the National Ability Center empowers participants by building self-esteem, confidence and lifetime skills through inclusive programming and activities such as alpine and nordic skiing, snowboarding, horseback riding, cycling, swimming, rafting, archery, among others. The National Ability Center is globally recognized as a chapter of Disabled Sports USA and is one of only 12 Gold U.S. Paralympic Sports Clubs.


The Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs’ Sports Diplomacy Division
The Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs of the U.S. Department of State fosters mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries to promote friendly and peaceful relations. This mission is accomplished through academic, cultural, sports and professional exchanges that engage youth, students, educators, artists, athletes and rising leaders in the United States and more than 160 countries.

The Sports Diplomacy division (formerly SportsUnited) uses the international language of sports as a tool to promote tolerance, understanding and the peaceful resolution/prevention of conflict; to increase awareness among young people of the importance of following a healthy lifestyle and physical fitness in order to prevent illness, substance abuse, and negative behaviors; and to improve the quality of life for persons with disabilities by providing inclusive sports opportunities that contribute to the physical and psychological health of people at all ages who experience disabilities.