More opportunities as local rehab facility expands
TULSA, Okla. (KTUL) —
When you meet Emeka Nnaka, he's only got one thing on his mind.
"I don't know how my swimming skills are like right now, but I can float; I can float," said Nnaka.
He's looking forward to swapping chairs so he can finally be in a swimming pool. It will be the first time in 11 years.
"I've never done pool therapy before," said Nnaka. "Now that it's here, it's new, and I'll be able to try"
This positive attitude wasn't always there. Over a decade ago, Nnaka suffered a neck injury from playing football, paralyzing him from the chest down.
"At the time of my injury, it was devastating," said Nnaka. "My life had turned upside down."
He’s been in a wheelchair ever since, but his injuries aren’t slowing this athlete down.
"When I got here to the center, my biggest focus was trying to get better physically," said Nnaka.
That center was The Center for Individuals with Physical Challenges. They've just expanded to The Hardesty Family Adaptive Sports Complex -- a place that’s giving Tulsans who wouldn’t be able to play sports at a regular gym, somewhere to go.
When Nnaka got there, he never knew it would be a lifeline.
"This not only improved my body, but also improved my mind," said Nnaka. "I was able to interact with other people and participate in so many different programs. This place has been one of the biggest parts of my recovery."
The Center added new opportunities like a yoga wall, rock climbing, and of course, the pool.
"Right now, it is adults ages 18 and above, but starting this summer, we will start serving children down to age 6 by offering summer camps and after school programs," said Executive Director Lori Long.
It's a facility that continues to grow by giving people like Nnaka a chance to grow as well.
"When we start making our world a little bit more accessible for anyone, that helps everybody," said Nnaka.