Bowling: A surprisingly inclusive sport

Bowling - a surprisingly inclusive sportOn Friday afternoon, Lily and my husband played hooky to celebrate my brother-in-law’s birthday. We went Bowling! Old school.

It. Was. Seriously. Awesome. Why?

  • Bowling is actually quite fun.
  • The local place, while a bit run down, was super friendly. They weren’t busy, so they provided an exclusive toddler lane FREE of charge!
  • Everyone could participate.

Lily can walk either “with hands”, with her walker, or along furniture. Otherwise, she crawls. She has not yet mastered standing or walking independently, so bowling the typical way was out of the question. In order for Lily to participate, I assumed we would carry the ball for her, set it on the ground, and then have her push the ball while on her knees.

Inclusive bowling rampHowever, the manager had a MUCH better solution. He set us up with a bowling ball ramp.

How to bowl with a ramp: 

  1. Place the bowling ball on the top of the ramp. There is a square framed section that will hold the ball in place until the bowler is ready to take their turn.
  2. Adjust the ramp left and right, with or without an angle. It is lightweight and easy to adjust.
  3. bowling inclusive sport ball rampPush the ball. The bowler can push gently with the tips of their fingers (like my daughter did), or they can add some speed behind the ball. The ramp gets even the most gentle of pushed balls down the alley (we tested this when Lily decided to bowl one frame with her nose). Like when playing billiards, pushing the center of the ball makes it go straight. To make the ball curve, push from left or right of center.

Because Lily uses her hands to hold on to something to walk, we put the ball on the ramp for her. She did the rest. We took turns walking her back and forth, back and forth, and then back and forth again! She loved watching her orange ball come back through the return, and then would say, “I bowl again?”

Bowling-Inclusive3We only got two games in, but she bowled nearly three. It was fantastic exercise for her (and  us), and she had so much fun. What I loved the most was how I could envision her having a fabulous time bowling  right along side other kids her age.

Now I totally want to do Lily’s 3rd birthday party at a bowling alley. Will other moms think I’m nuts?

A few final points if you decide to try bowling with your little one:

  • Call ahead to make sure they have bowling ball ramps available for use.
  • If your child needs their wheelchair or walker while bowling, call ahead to make sure the building is accessible, and to work out logistics to accommodate your child’s device.
  • Ask for bumpers to be placed in the gutters (especially when first learning) so that your child is rewarded by seeing pins drop.

What are your favorite inclusive activities for your child? 

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