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Prairie Grit Adaptive Sports continues to expand opportunities in the area

Submitted Photo Prairie Grit Adaptive Sports athletes pose for a photo in the pool at the Minot YMCA.

Started as an opportunity for a little brother to participate and have fun playing the same sport as his older brother, Prairie Grit Adaptive Sports (PGAS) has turned into a mission to help anyone with a disability find their place in Minot’s community.

Prairie Grit provides athletic opportunities for participants ages five through adulthood with disabilities such as cerebral palsy, spinal cord injuries, spina bifida, Down syndrome, autism, amputations and more. They level the playing field by removing barriers to give everyone a chance to find and do what they love.

Minot’s Chad and Angie Thompson started Prairie Grit in 2016 so that their son Palmer, born with spina bifida, may have the chance to play hockey like his older brother, Oliver.

“We started with a sled hockey program and from there we’ve kind of taken off and branched out into other sports like track and field, adaptive golf, swimming and yoga,” Prairie Grit executive director Drew Hanson said.

With support and backing from organizations like the Minot Hockey Boosters, sled hockey was an easy place for Prairie Grit to start. It was always in the back of their minds that they would branch out into other sports as they saw the interest grow from the community.

Submitted Photo On March 2, the Minot Curling Club hosted Prairie Grit Adaptive Sports athletes at their facility at the North Dakota State Fairgrounds.

Recently, PGAS has partnered with Gymagic Gymnastics in Minot to offer gymnastics throughout the fall and winter months.

Prairie Grit has also partnered with the Minot YMCA to offer swimming, wheelchair basketball and adaptive rock climbing. Through the interest of their participants and the support from the community, they’ve been able to tackle other sports like archery, trapshooting and curling.

As someone who grew up with a disability, Hanson finds a lot of joy in helping with the Thompsons’ mission of giving everyone in Minot an opportunity to participate and find their place with different activities.

“I’ve had nothing but great feedback,” Hanson said. “I know what it’s like not to have these opportunities. The kids that are in our program especially take a liking to it and love pretty much everything we’ve done.”

Hanson said most athletes and participants will try each activity at least once before choosing their favorite while others will participate in anything and everything all the time.

The program has seen families travel from Montana, Berthold, Stanley and Langdon to participate in different activities.

“This wasn’t an option in our community when I was growing up here and living with a disability as a child, so for me personally it’s been really great to see everyone that participates get the chance to do this,” Hanson said. “It’s not only important for their physical well-being but their mental well-being as well. It really brings out their personalities and gives them something to look forward to every week.”

With kids, it can be difficult fort them to branch out and try something new. For Hanson, it’s great to see kids evolve and come out of their shells as they become more involved and comfortable with themselves and Prairie Grit’s activities.

The work Prairie Grit does wouldn’t be possible without the support of the community. From the Minot Hockey Boosters to First International Bank, Hanson knows that Minot is behind them as they expand into other sports and activities.

To learn more about PGAS, visit their Facebook page @PrairieGritAdaptiveSports or their website at prairiegritsports.com.

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