Summer of fun: UMAISE gives patients, community a season full of adaptive experiences

August 29, 2022  //  FOUND IN: Our Employees,

Across southeastern Michigan, patients and community members have been taking advantage of the summer — all thanks to the doctors and therapists who make up UMAISE, the U-M Adaptive and Inclusive Sports Experience.

From camping to fishing, kayaking, basketball, martial arts and more, adaptive recreational experiences have been created to get participants out, about and as active as possible.

“Outdoor activities and other forms of exercise are vital for everyone, but especially those who are healing or don’t otherwise have as many opportunities to stay active in their daily lives,” said Becky McVey, a recreational therapist at Michigan Medicine and coordinator of UMAISE. “On top of that, it’s sometimes very expensive to purchase adaptive equipment that allows everyone to participate on equal footing with others.”

That’s where UMAISE steps in, offering equipment and the expertise of faculty and staff to create free experiences for those with disabilities.

In honor of Diversity in Sport Day, celebrated every year on Aug. 28, here’s a closer look at all of the activities UMAISE held over the summer. And be sure to take a look at many of the activities in the photo gallery above!

Adaptive cycling and handcycling

Bikes and handcycles are provided for participants of any age and ability level to enjoy the great outdoors. The program has one more month to go and is held at Island Lake State Park in Brighton.

Adaptive fishing

This was the first year of the adaptive fishing program, which provided equipment for those to fish who may not otherwise have the dexterity or strength to hold fishing rods and carry out other essential tasks. It was held weekly at Argo Park in Ann Arbor.

Adult Sports Club

For the first time, UMAISE offered an Adult Sports Club which allowed participants with disabilities to join others in yoga, martial arts, pickleball and more!


Sometimes, “typical” camping equipment isn’t ideal for those who use wheelchairs or have other unique needs. UMAISE offered its expertise to create a fully accessible camping experience, which included staying overnight in tents with others! 


Kayaking was offered for all ages this summer. And for the first time, a downriver option was created, when more than two dozen participants kayaked for nearly three hours from Argo Park to Gallup Park in Ann Arbor.

Martial arts

Too often, programs focus on what those who use wheelchairs or have other disabilities can’t do. In contrast, the UMAISE martial arts program focuses on what children can do, with adaptations made by recreational and physical therapists. Sensei Dave Reicher led sessions throughout the summer for children and a great time was had by all!

Wheelchair basketball

While the Rollverines — UMAISE’s pediatric wheelchair basketball program, took a hiatus over the summer — three wheelchair basketball open gyms were held in Ann Arbor for all ages. Don’t worry, the Rollverines will again be hitting the court weekly this fall!

Wheelchair and standing tennis

Those who use wheelchairs for mobility were able to get tennis lessons and square off in competitions with one another on the courts at the U-M Varsity Tennis Center. There was also an option for standing participants who have mobility impairments.

In the end, all of the events helped participants get needed exercise, but just as importantly, created camaraderie among participants.

“Through these activities, there has been an incredible sense of community that has naturally formed between participants, families, volunteers and staff,” said recreational therapist Kate Crawley. “It has been amazing to see participants become more and more independent with each clinic, practice or event they attend.

“It makes all of us at UMAISE proud of the work we do every day.”

UMAISE is hosting its third annual golf outing on Sept. 16 at Hickory Creek Golf Course. This event raises critical funding which allows UMAISE to provide adaptive and inclusive sports and recreation programs. To find out more information on how to sign up as a golfer or to donate to UMAISE please click here.