The Daemen College Center for Allied and Unified Sport and Exercise (CAUSE) is celebrating three years of its mission to provide competitive and recreational sporting opportunities for individuals with disabilities from the local community. Since its launch, CAUSE has been recognized locally, regionally, and nationally for the impact that it has had in Western New York.
The CAUSE program is centered around sport sampling sessions, which expose participants to a variety of activities ranging from team sports like volleyball and basketball to individual sports like tennis, bowling and even pickleball. In addition, sport sampling sessions can focus on individual physical fitness through activities like Zumba, dance and yoga. Each sport sampling session features Daemen students and student-athletes who complete their service learning requirements by assisting with the program.
Originally launched as a one-session-per-week program, CAUSE has expanded its offerings over time. During the 2019-20 academic year, the program offered four opportunities for participants each week – Tuesday and Thursday evenings as well as two on Sunday afternoons – before the COVID-19 pandemic forced the suspension of all in-person sport sampling sessions. Despite the challenges, the CAUSE staff and its volunteers remained committed to providing a sporting experience for participants, and did so with a series of virtual workouts posted to the CAUSE YouTube channel.
“We have experienced significant growth over the last three years and we wouldn’t have been able to do that without Daemen College, the local community, and our partners coming together to make that happen,” program director Brooke Densing. “The coronavirus pandemic has introduced unique challenges to offering in-person sport and exercise. This has given us the opportunity to expand our outreach efforts and engage with our families virtually.”
She added, “Even though our sessions were cut short in the spring, we enrolled 146 participants in 2019-20 with about 70 participants attending sessions each week. And a total of 57 service learning students and 263 Daemen student-athletes volunteered their time with CAUSE over the last year. We are proud to serve the community and provide individuals with and without disabilities a space to come together, play sports, and have fun.”
With students returning to campus and the fall semester underway, plans continue for CAUSE to offer virtual programming for the time being, according to Densing. Students who would normally be charged with conducting sport sampling sessions are serving CAUSE in other ways this semester, including the completion of unified sport research projects, advocacy work, accessible gym research, and the production of digital media content. They will also be engaging with participants for their projects throughout the semester.
For those wishing to learn more about CAUSE and its mission, please visit daemenwildcats.com/cause.