Santa Cruz Good Times

Saturday
Aug 29th
Text size
  • Increase font size
  • Default font size
  • Decrease font size

Getting Physical

Nonprofit partners with U.S. Paralympics to provide disabled locals with more adventures

At 17 years old, Foster Andersen loved skiing, playing ice hockey, and listening to the Grateful Dead. He thrived outdoors and enjoyed trying new activities.

So, when he broke his neck in a motorcycle accident, his whole life changed.

Despite becoming quadriplegic and bound to a wheelchair, Andersen managed to graduate high school with his class, and spend years traveling from Rochester, N.Y. to Berkeley and everywhere in between before eventually settling down in Santa Cruz.

“I first moved down here right after the Loma Prieta Earthquake because I wanted to help in whatever way I could,” Andersen, 51, says. “I really didn’t know how.”

Prior to moving out west, Andersen founded a sit-ski program for disabled skiers in New York called Shared Adventures. He decided to move the organization out to Santa Cruz after he met professional surfer Terry Simms while studying computer graphics engineering at Cabrillo College.

“[Simms] came to Cabrillo College and asked if anyone wanted to go surfing,” he recalls. “Of course I raised my hand and he and a bunch of volunteers took us down the stairs at 38th Avenue stairwell and took us out surfing.” Andersen enjoyed the experience so much that he decided to bring Shared Adventures to Santa Cruz and broaden its offerings. Since receiving official nonprofit status in 1994, Shared Adventures has provided social and sports activities for people with special needs in Santa Cruz County.

On Jan. 6, Shared Adventures partnered with U.S. Paralympics, a division of the U.S. Olympics Committee, to create Paralympic Sport-Santa Cruz—a community-based sports club dedicated to furthering Shared Adventures’ mission of getting people with physical and visual disabilities outside and active.

U.S. Paralympics is designed to reach out to communities like Santa Cruz—there are 155 clubs around the country—and create local resources that offer sports programs year-round.

“It’s really exciting to see this get to this point,” Andersen says. “I’ve been working hard for the last 20 years to get this off the ground.” Joining forces with U.S. Paralympics, he adds, could lead to better funding, new activities, and possible expansion south to Monterey.

“Santa Cruz is playing an important part to give people an avenue and an outlet to get physically fit,” says Susan Rossi, U.S. Paralympics community and veterans program manager. “It’s a great local resource for the Northern California area so that people can get active on a daily and weekly basis and participate in the community with their family and friends.”

With the idea of an “athlete pipeline” in place, Rossi says, more competitive participants will have some avenues to reach a higher level, perhaps even the official Paralympic games, which will be held in London this year.

“They’re increasing their physical fitness but they’re also gaining socialization with their peers and family members and the community,” says Rossi. “A lot of times, sports leads to such things as getting a drivers license, getting married, [and] getting an education.”

According to 2010 U.S. Census data, there are 54 million Americans with a disability and 11 million require personal assistance with everyday activities. By providing assisted opportunities, organizations like Shared Adventures and U.S. Paralympics can increase quality of life.

“I broke my neck in 1978 and there really wasn’t a lot of hope for people back then in terms of survival,” Andersen says. “I overcame a lot of odds over the years—it’s been 34 years—since I’ve been in a chair.”

When he first arrived in Santa Cruz, Andersen noticed that many places were not accessible for disabled locals—the Americans with Disabilities Act wouldn’t be passed until the following year—and he felt that raising awareness and building relationships between those with special needs and those without was the first step to addressing the inaccessibility.

From rock climbing, to bocce ball, to archery—Shared Adventures assists both adults and children in outdoor and social activities. Spring activities will include sailing, surfing with Ride-A-Wave, and bi-weekly art classes along with many other options.

“There are a lot of people that got into accidents that just give up and think there’s no life anymore,” says Andersen. “But there is more to life then being homebound and waiting for your care provider. I’ve been there.”

The 20th annual Day On The Beach will be held on July 21, always near the anniversary of Andersen’s accident, when hundreds of volunteers will help construct a giant plywood platform on Cowell Beach that allows beach access for all. Live music, food, and water sports are all organized and offered for free. 

“Santa Cruz is a great destination point for anybody, especially [for those] with a disability as far as access to the outdoors goes,” he says. Andersen is excited that Shared Adventures seems to be making a difference in people’s lives—both disabled and volunteers. He says, “I kinda feel like I’m Bill Graham because I put on all these great shows.” 

Comments (0)Add Comment

Write comment
smaller | bigger

busy
 

Share this on your social networks

Bookmark and Share

Share this

Bookmark and Share

 

The Meaning of ‘LIFE’

With a new documentary film about his work, and huge exhibits on both coasts, acclaimed Santa Cruz nature photographer Frans Lanting is having a landmark year. But his crusade for conservation doesn’t leave much time for looking back

 

Seasons of Opportunity

Everything in our world has a specific time (a season) in which to accomplish a specific work—a “season” that begins (opportunity) and ends (time’s up). I can feel the season is changing. The leaves turning colors, the air cooler, sunbeams casting shadows in different places. It feels like a seasonal change has begun in the northern hemisphere. Christmas is in four months, and 2015 is swiftly speeding by. Soon it will be autumn and time for the many Festivals of Light. Each season offers new opportunities. Then the season ends and new seasons take its place. Humanity, too, is given “seasons” of opportunity. We are in one of those opportunities now, to bring something new (Uranus) into our world, especially in the United States. Times of opportunity can be seen in the astrology chart. In the U.S. chart, Uranus (change) joins Chiron (wound/healing). This symbolizes a need to heal the wounds of humanity. Uranus offers new archetypes, new ways of doing things. The Uranus/Chiron (Aries/Pisces) message is, “The people of the U.S. are suffering. New actions are needed to bring healing and well-being to humanity. So the U.S. can fulfill its spiritual task of standing within the light and leading humanity within and toward the light.” Thursday, Aquarius Moon, Mercury enters Libra. The message, “To bring forth the new order in the world, begin with acts of Goodwill.” Goodwill produces right relations with everyone and everything. The result is a world of progressive well-being and peacefulness (which is neither passive nor the opposite of war). Saturday is the full moon, the solar light of Virgo streaming into the Earth. Our waiting now begins, for the birth of new light at winter solstice. The mother (hiding the light of the soul, the holy child), identifying the feminine principle, says, “I am the mother and the child. I, God (Father), I Matter (Mother), We are One.”

 

The New Tech Nexus

Community leaders in science and technology unite to form web-based networking program

 

Film, Times & Events: Week of August 28

Santa Cruz area movie theaters >
Sign up for Good Times weekly newsletter
Get the latest news, events

RSS Feed Burner

 Subscribe in a reader

Latest Comments

 

Land of Plenty

Farm to Fork benefit dinner for UCSC’s Agroecology Center, plus a zippy salsa from Teresa’s Salsa that loves every food it meets

 

If you knew you had one week to live, what would you do?

Make peace with myself, which would allow me to be at peace with others. Diane Fisher, Santa Cruz, Network Engineer

 

Comanche Cellars

Michael Simons, owner and winemaker of Comanche Cellars, once had a trusted steed called Comanche, which was part of his paper route and his rodeo circuit, from the tender age of 10. In memory of this beautiful horse, he named his winery Comanche, and Comanche’s shoes grace the label of each handcrafted bottle.

 

Cantine Winepub

Aptos wine and tapas spot keeps it casual