Upenn Recreation












Inclusive Recreation Mission

In alignment with Penn Campus Recreation’s mission statement, the department is committed to embracing and supporting all of the Penn Community in pursuing a healthy lifestyle through fitness, wellness, and sport activities by offering exceptional recreational programs, services, and facilities. Penn Campus Recreation is committed to creating an environment of respect and inclusivity in all areas of the department. We achieve this by hiring and developing culturally aware staff members who are committed to creating a welcoming environment for all members of Penn Campus Recreation.


Special Olympics Flag Football Event

Each Fall, Campus Recreation hosts a Special Olympics Flag Football Event in unison with the Special Olympics Pennsylvania Office and the UPenn Special Olympics Student Organization. Check out some images from our event in 2018!

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  • Impairments 

    Penn Campus Recreation strives to accomodate people of various impairments.  In order to be accommodating, it is crucial to have an understanding of what constitutes certain impairments.  Below is a list of several common impairments and some insight on causes and characteristics.


    Visual Impairments

    Vision loss is often associated with old age but children can experience vision loss before or at birth or during childhood

    Some causes of visual impairments:

    – Macular Degeneration: macula area of the retina thins and sometimes bleeds

    – Retinoblastoma: a malignancy of the retina in early childhood

    – Rubella: contagious viral infection; vision problems if mother contracts during third trimester of pregnancy

    – Retinitis Pigmentosa: abnormality of the rods and cones causes vision loss

    Characteristics vary, but in general, people with visual impairments generally exhibit the following traits:

    Lower levels of fitness than sighted people

    – Blindisms or Self-Stimulation: repetitive movements, such as hand waving or finger flicking

    – Clumsiness

    – Poor posture

    – Walking on their toes

    – Poor Balance

    Hearing Impairments

    Causes of hearing impairments:

    – Old age

    – Exposure to noise

    – Result of disease, infections, or drugs

    – Head injury or injury to the ear


    – Lack of attention

    – Uses gestures

    – Responds to noises instead of words

    – Turns or cocks head

    – Imitates others

    – Reluctant to participate verbally

    Physical Impairments

    Common causes of physical impairments:

    – Arthritis

    – Cerebral Palsy

    – Spinal Cord Injury

    – TBI (Traumatic Brain Injury)

    – Stroke

    – Parkinson’s Disease

    – Multiple Sclerosis

    Intellectual Disabilities

    Intellectual disabilities (ID) can start anytime before a child is 18 years old

    Many of the causes of ID are not known, however, there are common causes of ID

    – Down Syndrome

    – Fetal Alcohol System

    – After Birth (genetic conditions, infections, birth defects)

    – Serious head injuries, strokes, infections

    Characterized by sub average intellectual functioning, existing concurrently with related limitations in two or

    more of the following applicable adaptive skills areas: communication, self-care, home living, social skills,

    community use, self-direction, health and safety, functional academics, leisure, and work.

  • Adaptive Recreation

    As part of our Inclusive Recreation Program, Penn Campus Recreation is committed to offering opportunities for those with permanent or temporary visual, hearing, physical, or intellectual impairments. We accommodate these patrons through our programming and facility design so that all patrons with disabilities can pursue a healthy lifestyle. Penn Campus Recreation is also dedicated to staying in compliance with the American with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA).


    Rock Climbing

    The rock climbing wall in the Pottruck Fitness Center is a great resource for people of all abilities that seek adventure.  Climbing is a sport that can be modified to accommodate patrons with most physical, visual, or hearing impairments.  With the use of specialized adaptive equipment climbing the rock wall can be done by amputee and parapalegic patrons.  Contact Jason Erdman, Assistant Director, Outdoor Adventure with any questions about using the climbing wall with an impairment.

    Group Exercise

    Penn Campus Recreation offers many Group Exercise classes, taught by highly-qualified and experienced instructors. Starting with the training they undergo, the instructors are taught to modify and adapt any exercise in all formats. Depending on the disability, the individual would pick classes that adhere best to their goals and if they give the instructor a heads up, the instructor has the knowledge to keep them included by adjusting the exercise, movement, frequency or resistance. Cueing has become a large component in group exercise, each instructor needs to be able to provide a full class of verbal and physical cues so you are able to follow whether you have a visual or hearing impairment. Of course, there are specific classes that are easier to modify than others but again, all dependent on the ability of the individual. Here at Penn Campus Recreation we have instructors with certifications that are specifically geared towards developmentally or physically disabled people. Lastly, we have instructors that are certified through the wounded warrior yoga program that serve veterans and their families.  Please contact Devon Vicari (dvicari@upenn.edu) with any questions.

    Personal Training

    All of Campus Recreation’s personal trainers are certified and able to create a personalized fitness program for any individual. Pottruck has a variety of equipment which can be modified to meet the needs of a person in any situation. Please contact Janna Rothschild (jannaro@upenn.edu) with any questions or concerns.


    Penn Campus Recreation offers swim lessons and programs that could adhere to all abilities. The Sheerr Pool is equipped with a lift to help those get into the water, an in-water platform for accessibility, and a number of floating devices (small and large) to accompany any individual. Our lifeguards and swim instructors are experienced and trained on all equipment so they will be able to provide the full aquatic service per person. Depending on ability we have a large range of activities from open swim, instructed group lessons and private swim courses.  Please contact Devon Vicari (dvicari@upenn.edu) with any questions.

  • Facility

    The Pottruck and Fox Fitness Centers have various amenities to accommodate our guests with physical or visual impairments.  Our staff strives to accommodate everyone within our facilities regardless of ability or impairment status.  If you or anyone you know has questions or requests regarding facility accommodations, please visit or call our membership services office.

    Physical Impairments

    Accessing our facilities with a physical impairment via wheelchair, cruches or other means can be done with… We have a wheel chair accessible ramp to access all entrances within our facilities.  Automatic front doors allows for easy entrance.  And an elevator allows our patrons to access all levels of the facility to recreate.

    Visual Impairments

    Patrons with visual impairments can utilize several services within our facilities.  All room numbers, stair wells and elevators are labeled in brail.  Service dogs are always welcome in the facility.  Our Recreation Assistants are also available to guide you to your desired work-out location within the facilities.


  • Resources 

    Penn Campus Recreation is just one resource on and around campus for people with disabilities and impairments to utilize.  Below is a list of several resources that specialize in working with people with disabilities around the Philadelphia area and beyond.  Some organizations will be working collaboratively with Penn Campus Recreation for future programming and services.

    Penn Office of Student Disabilities Services

    The University of Pennsylvania welcomes students with disabilities and is committed to providing the same exceptional opportunities to all Penn students. Policies and procedures have been developed to provide students with as much independence as possible and to promote self-advocacy. At Student Disabilities Services (SDS) we work closely with students who self-identify in order to ensure equal access to all University programs activities and services. We encourage you to learn more about our services on our website. You will find information about the accommodations we provide as well as procedures for requesting accommodations and services. We also invite you to meet with our staff to address your specific needs as part of our collaborative process.

    Special Olympics Philadelphia

    Special Olympics Pennsylvania’s Philadelphia program provides year-round sports training and athletic competition for children and adults in Philadelphia with intellectual disabilities.


    Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP) connects, serves, and empowers wounded warriors by providing free programs and services that address their needs and fill gaps in government care.

    Paradox Sports 

    As one of the nation’s premier adaptive outdoor recreation organizations,
    Paradox Sports is dedicated to our mission:
    Revolutionizing lives through adaptive
    climbing opportunities that defy convention.

    Overbrook School for the Blind

    Overbrook School for the Blind (OSB) prepares our students—all of whom are blind, visually impaired or living with other challenges—to have the greatest opportunity to experience active and fulfilling lives. Ours is a school where compassion, dedication, expertise and instructional excellence are immediately evident. At OSB, teams of highly-qualified teachers and specialists work seamlessly to create a caring, can-do environment. Each and every day, our historic 26 acre campus in the Overbrook Farms section of West Philadelphia, is bustling with activity is our students work, play, and in some cases, live in an extraordinary set of integrated buildings that have been adapted to meet the multiple needs of our students.


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