Duncan highlights WKU experience with adaptive and inclusive sports
- Kristina Harvey
- Friday, December 3rd, 2021
Madison Duncan, a December 2021 graduate majoring in recreation administration, will leave her mark at WKU. As a Bowling Green native and second-generation Hilltopper, Duncan always knew she wanted to attend the university. Her childhood memories include attending WKU Homecoming parades, football games and basketball games. Proximity to home, and an outstanding degree program for her major, made the decision to become a Hilltopper easy.
Many paths led Duncan to major in recreation administration. One path included her role model and certified therapeutic recreation specialist (CTRS), Jill Farmer. During the summers of her middle and high school years, Duncan lived in Louisville and received physical therapy at Frazier Rehab Institute. While there, she participated in recreational therapy with Farmer who became an inspiration for Duncan’s future professional goals. Duncan shared that after graduating from WKU, she plans to pursue a master’s degree to become a CTRS.
When asked about Duncan, Farmer said, “I am honored and humbled that Madison would look to me as a role model and inspiration for her future career goals in the field of Recreation Therapy. During the time Madison lived in Louisville, I was able to provide her and other young individuals with opportunities to experience adaptive and inclusive recreation and sport programs. She has an incredible foundation of support and encouragement through her family and friends, and given that support, I never worried that she would be successful in anything she attempted to do. It has been my pleasure to see her discover a passion for leadership and organization throughout her time working with me as well as her college career. She used those talents to seek out opportunities for herself and others to experience adapted and inclusive recreation and sport programs that weren’t always available in Bowling Green. I can’t wait to see what she does next!”
Duncan also credits her time spent working at Bowling Green Parks and Recreation’s (BGPR) Camp Happy Days as an influential path to her interest in recreation administration. In partnership with BGPR and WKU Campus Recreation and Wellness (CRW), Duncan organized an adaptive athletics showcase. A project for her competitive sports internship, the showcase was open to the public and featured wheelchair basketball, wheelchair tennis, and goalball. In addition, this semester Duncan created an adaptive athletics sports club on campus and served as president. She shared, “This program is one of about 30 in the country and the only program at the collegiate level in Kentucky.” Duncan went on to say, “Adaptive sports are open to anyone, and we now possess the wheelchairs on campus to allow anyone to participate. The Preston Health and Activities Center permanently houses seven chairs borrowed from the Kentucky-Indiana Paralyzed Veterans Association.”
Duncan said the idea for starting the club on campus originated from Cameron Levis of BGPR and the CRW office a couple of years prior to her starting it. She said, “It originally got pushed back because of COVID-19, and I was lucky enough to have it fall in line with my internship this semester. Cameron, and I, wanted to create it so we could bring a bigger sense of inclusion to campus through adapted sports. These are sports that we love and that we think others on campus could love as well.”
“I have participated in adapted sports since I was about a junior in high school. It began with me joining my high school's track and field team where I did adapted shot put and set the current Kentucky state record,” Duncan said. “Cameron Levis asked me to join him in a wheelchair basketball team that he was putting together with BGPR, and from there I have been able to participate in other sports like sled hockey, wheelchair tennis, wheelchair racquetball and many more. It is something that I have grown to really love.”
Duncan is looking forward to what the future holds for the club. She said, “Since the club is just starting to get off the ground this semester, we haven't been able to do as much as I would have liked, but I think that this allows my able-bodied peers to kind of step outside of their comfort zone and try a sport that they might love, just in a new way. While at the same time, this allows for those with disabilities to have something that they can do right here on campus. This could be the opportunity for them to try adapted sports for the first time in their life. In the same way as well, for a brief moment through adapted sports, everyone is on the same, even playing field. And I think that is a huge thing to bring to campus because it promotes such inclusion where it may not have been happening before. It allows people to connect in a new way through sports along with the big impact that sports already has on people.”
Recreation, Park & Nonprofit Administration Associate Professor Dr. Tammie Stenger-Ramsey said, “Madison has a wonderful attitude and is passionate about making a difference in the lives of others. She wants to make sure that the university and Bowling Green community offer recreation opportunities that allow everyone to participate. She designed her own internship and is seeking ways to make all programs offered by Campus Recreation and Wellness at WKU available for all faculty, staff, and students.”
Duncan’s academic advisor, Assistant Professor Dr. Allie McCreary, also said, “Madison is a student who goes above and beyond; what we talk about in the classroom, she puts into action in the community. I saw her grow into her leadership abilities in an event planning course in Fall 2019 and then transfer those skills into the adaptive sport events she's implemented on campus this fall. I know Madison will go on to do great things in the future and she is a wonderful representation of the excellence and integrity we value at WKU and in our Recreation Administration program.”
For more information about the WKU Adaptive Athletics Sports Club, visit www.wku.edu/crw
#WKUGrad series: As part of our #WKUGrad series, articles on graduating students are shared in the weeks leading up to Commencement. See all of their stories at www.wku.edu/news.