Bowling is a fun activity that can assist children with disabilities improve their strength, agility and hand-eye coordination. With these adaptations to the traditional game, everyone can join in
Ball games are important for children, as they help to improve overall strength and agility, and develop hand-eye coordination and gross motor skills. Of these, bowling is a great option – it involves rolling a ball down a bowling alley and trying to knock the pins over.
But it doesn’t have to be pins! You can use tin cans or any other objects that can be easily knocked over. Here are some modifications that might assist children:
Bowling can be played standing, seated on a chair, in a wheelchair or on the floor, and by using assistive devices such as walking frames or crutches. Some children might need a friend to hold onto for balance.
While the bowling alley surface is traditionally smooth and slippery to ensure that the ball rolls well, it could be a slipping hazard and some children may require adaptations such as using a rougher surface or carpet.
You can use a lighter or larger ball if needed, and the child can use two hands instead of one if necessary.
Make the pins larger, or shorten the distance between the child and the pins in the bowling alley.
These can be used from either a standing or seated position; they help children who cannot hold or roll a ball. Instead they can roll the ball down the ramp to knock over the pins.
While there are ready-made versions available that can include quick release buttons, you can make your own ramp using wood
or aluminium. These ramps assist children in rolling the ball from a standing position,
or from their wheelchair, standing frame or
Ball pushers/bowling sticks
A child can use these pushers/sticks from either a standing or seated position. They help a child to push rather than throw the ball and have long arms with a grip at the end that fits to the shape of the ball. They help the child to easily and accurately push the ball down the lane, either in front or to the side of a wheelchair or walker.
Dr Emma McKinney is a “children with disabilities” specialist, a post doctoral fellow at Stellenbosch University and owns a company called Disability Included. email: firstname.lastname@example.org