Campus Rec Breaks Barriers in Inclusive Recreation
Author: Grace Lamb
Posted: October 31, 2019

JD Duran in wheelchair raceThis October as Portland State celebrated National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM), Campus Rec launched the Breaking Barriers Award to provide support to PSU students with a qualifying disability, strong spirit and/or leadership potential to participate in athletic competition or recreational events not currently offered through Portland State Campus Rec. The award may cover equipment, uniform, travel or other costs of the competition or event. Awardees will be selected based on financial need, and their responses to essay questions. Athletes and recreation participants of all levels are encouraged to apply
One of Campus Rec’s core values is inclusion—to create environments and experiences that support everyone’s right to participate. Inclusion and accessibility are not only values at Campus Rec, they are also a part of our everyday operations. Our Inclusive Rec program demonstrates our commitment to creating a community that welcomes everyone and celebrates diversity and authenticity. Inclusive Rec has worked with many students over the years who have wanted to be involved in adaptive sports or events not currently offered at Campus Rec. These students inspired Campus Rec to create the Breaking Barriers Award. 
In May 2018, PSU alumnus and avid wheelchair racer, JD Duran, received funds from the Inclusive Rec program for travel costs and new equipment for a wheelchair race. He connected with Jen Armbruster, Campus Rec’s Inclusive Rec and Fitness Center Coordinator, who told him that because he was a student and was wheelchair racing, Inclusive Rec could actually help fund a race or equipment that he might need. JD was intrigued by Armbruster’s offer, and says he “would have spoken up much sooner” had he known that this was an option earlier. The funding from Campus Rec was instrumental to JD’s success in the Lilac Bloomsday Run in Spokane, WA.

“I was really surprised and thankful because the award came in handy,” JD explained. “It was really viable to the success I had that particular season.” 

Wheelchair racing is a form of adaptive track and field. JD has noticed that Portland does not have a well-established wheelchair racing community in comparison to other cities, which he finds surprising given how many Portlanders are ardent cyclists. He feels that the first step in building a wheelchair racing community is building awareness of the sport. You can learn more about adaptive sports in the Portland area by connecting with local organizations like Angel City Sports Oregon and Adaptive Sports Northwest.

Campus Rec’s commitment to creating inclusive and accessible spaces for all extends to the types of equipment that are in the Rec Center. Our state-of-the-art facility was built in 2010 using universal design principles. We offer adaptive equipment for a range of body types and abilities, including Krankcycles, sport chairs, TheraBand with Velcro straps, and braille and tactile indicators on cardio equipment. Our Rec Center is equipped with universal changing rooms, which offer increased privacy in an all-gender space for members with children, disabilities, or others who prefer a single-occupancy space.

“For someone like me who has a physical disability, to be able to use [the equipment] and be really efficient with my workouts was really helpful and convenient,” JD said. “Campus Rec helped me by having the right equipment for me to get into racing shape.”

Campus Rec makes every effort to be accessible to all abilities. All of Campus Rec’s programs and activities can be adapted for those with disabilities, and we offer a number of inclusive programs to meet specific needs. In addition, most of our Outdoor Program trips can be easily modified to accommodate disabilities. If you have questions, need accommodations, or would like more information on Campus Rec’s Inclusive Rec program, please contact Jen Armbruster at or 503-725-2927.