The 2019 ISAPA was held in Charlottesville, Virginia, United States of America.


Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness

President of the International Federation of Adapted Physical Activity (IFAPA) is the chair of the organizing committee.

For more details, visit ISAPA2019 website; 


Dr Martin Block hosting the 22nd International Symposium of Adapted Physical Activity (ISAPA) at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, VA, from June 14-18. ISAPA was the largest gathering of adapted physical activity professionals in 2019 with more than 200 professors/students from around the world gathered together for the five-day symposium. Over 2/3 of the participants were international representing Africa, S. American, Asia, and Eastern and Western Europe. There also was a three-day practitioner track with an additional 40 practitioners from the east coast with one teacher coming from as far away as Illinois. This was the first time ISAPA has been held in the US since 1991, and Charlottesville is by far the smallest city to host ISAPA. Opening ceremonies included a keynote from Dr. Tim Shriver, Chairman of Special Olympics International. He provided a powerful, motivating speech focusing on the new focus of Special Olympics – The Inclusion Revolution.

Dr. David Legg, former President of Canada Paralympics, gave the Lawrence Rarick Memorial Lecture with a thought-provoking presentation on the pros and cons of whether the Paralympics should merge with the Olympics into one large event. Over at the practitioner sessions participants learned about disability sports, how to modify physical education to include children with disabilities, Paralympics School Day to change attitudes towards disability, homemade adapted equipment for children with severe disabilities, Drums Alive, and the “evolutionary mismatch” that leads to structural problems and chronic pain and injury in everyone including those with disabilities.

Monday focused on Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), and the day kicked off with a keynote by Dr. Thomas Frazier, the Chief Science Officer from Autism Speaks. Dr. Frazier presented research that is currently funded through Autism Speaks as well as future opportunities. He suggested that physical activity research is a needed focus area of study and worthy of receiving funding from Autism Speaks and other foundations.

The success of the program could be measured by the buzz throughout the conference with participants talking about the presentations, future research, and collaborating with colleagues. Many participants took advantage of the many local restaurants and breweries in Charlottesville to take conversations into a more relaxed atmosphere. One of the highlights of the conference was a visit to Monticello, Thomas Jefferson’s home. This was fitting given that the theme of the conference was taking from Jefferson’s own words in the Declaration of Independence. “Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.” This theme reverberated throughout the conference with presentations focusing on how to help children and adults with disabilities access recreation and sport in order to lead a full and happy life.  By all measures ISAPA 2019 was a huge success, and everyone is looking forward to meeting again at ISAPA 2021 in Finland.

ISAPA concluded with a general assembly meeting of the International Federation of Adapted Physical Activity (IFAPA), which included saying goodbye to IFAPA Past-president Dr. Claire Boursier and the transition of the presidency from Dr. Martin Block to Dr. David Legg.

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