Boccia Clinic Motivates Veterans Despite Mobility Challenges

USA Boccia hosted and sponsored a boccia clinic in November at the California Central Valley Archery Academy facility in Stockton, California, where Veterans from various VA Palo Alto Health Care System (VAPAHCS) programs were invited to participate.

Boccia (pronounced bot-cha) is a precision ball sport, like bocce, that was originally designed to be played by people with cerebral palsy, but now includes athletes with other disabilities affecting motor skills. The sport is accessible to people of all levels of physical functioning when participants play from a seated position and is governed by the Boccia International Sports Federation. It is also one of only two Paralympic sports that have no counterpart in the Olympic program and featured in the National Veterans Golden Age Games.

The Veterans who participated come from a varied physical ability, receiving care from VA programs such as Polytrauma, Community Living Centers, Spinal Cord Injury and HUD-VA Supportive Housing (HUD-VASH). For many, it was their first time playing the sport. They learned from USA Boccia’s trainees, Cathy Drobny and Mary Ann Keating, about the rules of the game.

“USA Boccia had staff on site and they were thrilled with the turnout and enthusiasm of the Veterans and the recreation therapists who could attend,” said Drobny, who is also a USA Boccia board member.

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The clinic also gave instruction to staff and Veterans so they can facilitate games on their own. The enthusiasm to continue was evident when one Veteran from the Livermore Community Living Center said, “When are we going to start playing this back home? I’d rather play this than bocce now!”

These types of programs are a great way to get Veterans motivated after recovering from injury or physical disorders. They are put on in collaboration with the Recreation Therapy program that helps to coordinate many outings for Veterans.

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