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  • Writer's pictureChristine

Trauma, Anxiety, and the Connection to Sports

Updated: Sep 2, 2021

Christine and Designer Janet Roche,

Are Excited to Present

On May 11, 2021

At This Year's

When we think of adaptive sports, we sometimes think of clients who may experience sensory overload. We may even plan for such situations and have a “cool down corner” or “quiet room.” And these are HUGE benefits to our clients, who may struggle in new or

uncertain environments, or areas filled with strangers.

We’d like to challenge you to expand your thinking on this theme. We are living in unprecedented times. Not only are we facing a global pandemic, but a civil rights movement was also sparked last summer unlike any this country has seen in decades, and in January, the full depth of the divisions in our country were highlighted when protesters stormed the US Capitol as Legislators prepared to certify the results of the presidential election. Trauma has been identified as an epidemic in our society and is caused by toxic stress. The events of the past year have shown structural racism, social determinants of health, and other inequities that contribute to this level of traumatic stress—and studies indicate that the risk is magnified for individuals living with disabilities.

We know that people who have experienced trauma can struggle with anxiety and hypervigilance, or alternately, disengagement, withdrawal, and depression. This is especially true when they are triggered by unpredictable events, sensory overload, feelings of vulnerability or frustration, confrontation, or something that reminds them of a traumatic event.

When participants are at ease,

they are primed to engage, have fun, build relationships, and learn.

As instructors with Vermont Adaptive Ski and Sports, Christine and Janet share our program's belief that "sports and recreation provide a physical, mental and social experience that is immeasurable in promoting self-confidence and independence in an individual." It can only follow, then, that we must reimagine our programming environments as places where individuals can build resilience without fear of being triggered or retraumatized.

By reimagining your program environment,

your program will be more welcoming to ALL participants.

The session will address common triggers in year-round sports programming environments, including some found outdoors, at ski resorts, and in locker rooms, and provide recommendations on how to eliminate or mitigate them. The recommendations will take into account the fiscal constraints often faced by programs, and will include principles of evidence-based inclusive design and biophilia.

Pending approval, participants may earn continuing education credits for attending this session through the National Council for Therapeutic Recreation Certification (NCTRC).

The 2021 Move United Education Conference is ready to provide the tools and training to help demystify disability and make inclusion reality. This year's theme,

brings us together to lead this evolving narrative so that we leave no one on the sidelines. This unique opportunity aims to enable sport providers with the education, awareness, and skills to serve individuals with disabilities in both recreational and competitive sport opportunities.

How can we help change the narrative and be champions for athletes with disabilities in our communities? Together.

Join Christine and Janet For


11 a.m. Eastern Time

May 11, 2021

About the Presenters:

Christine Cowart is a dually certified trauma professional, who has built a career in the human services field, with a focus on criminal justice and family services policy. Through this work, she developed an in-depth understanding of trauma, its possible effects, and what can

be done to change the story. She is currently employed as a contract and grant specialist for the Vermont Department for Children and Families, and serves as the co-chair for her division’s racial equity workgroup.

Christine is married, and an adoptive mother of two children with traumatic backgrounds. Her personal and professional experiences have led her to research the phenomenon of trauma and how to address it as a specialty area. Driven to share this information with the general public, Christine founded Cowart Trauma Informed Partnership, and dedicates much of her time helping individuals and organizations implement trauma-informed practices.

In her spare time, Christine volunteers in a variety of capacities. She is a member of her local school’s community-based diversity committee, which works towards ensuring equity in education for all students. In addition, she has served as an adaptive sports instructor for the past 19 years through Vermont Adaptive Ski and Sports, which named her a 2020 Volunteer of the Year. She is certified as an adaptive ski instructor through Professional Ski Instructors of America, and as an adaptive recreation and sports specialist through Blaze Sports America.

Janet Roche received her Masters in Design for Human Health within the Masters of Design Studies program at the Boston Architectural College (BAC) in January 2015. Immediately following graduation she has been an adjunct BAC instructor teaching: Environmental Health, Human Conditions + Design, and Biophilia. Recently, she mentored BAC students in a work-study program to examine circadian lighting and health within a large senior living facility associated with Harvard Medical and The Institute for Aging. She was asked to present this information at NEOCON in Chicago in June 2019. She is also currently sitting on the Alumni Council for the BAC.

With a background with a B.S. in Social Work from Boston University, her Certificate of Business and Management from Harvard University Extension School, and nearly two decades of owning her own production company, she is now engaging her love of design, helping others, and business by owning her own company, Janet Roche Designs, LLC. Her company believes that they can find real design solutions to the human condition.

In 2019 she launched her own podcast, Inclusive Designers, and in 2020 started Trauma Informed Design Network. She was named Woman of the Year by the National Association of Professional Women in 2011. She sits on a variety of boards and committees. She is active in her home town of Boston, is a Red Sox fan, and in the winter you can find her on the slopes of Killington where she is volunteers as a ski instructor for Vermont Adaptive Ski and Sports and is preparing for her Professional Ski Instructors Association certification as an adaptive ski instructor.

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