The 2012 Summer Paralympics are coming to London August 29 through September 9, giving supporters of Team USA something to stay excited about after the Olympics are over. For families of kids with special needs, the Paralympics offer a special opportunity to see people with disabilities doing awesome things. If you'd like to get your child involved in supporting U.S. Paralympics, with money or enthusiasm or perhaps his or her own athletic efforts, here are ten quick ways to get interested and involved. (Rooting for a different team? Check the list on the International Paralympic Committee site for information on your country's organization.)
1. Make a donation. If your child wants to help raise money or maybe contribute some allowance dollars, there's a page on the U.S. Paralympics site suggesting donations to the U.S. Paralympics team, to community programs, and to programs that help rehabilitate injured members of the military through Paralympic sports.
2. Buy a stitch. Another way to donate to both the Olympic and Paralympic teams is through Raise Our Flag. For $12, you can buy a stitch on the flag the athletes will carry in London, and you can dedicate your stitch to your favorite Paralympic athlete.
3. Meet the athletes. Speaking of favorite athletes, you and your child can read a profile of each member of the U.S. Paralympic team on the Team USA site and learn about their challenges and triumphs.
4. Learn about the sports. I've got galleries of summer and winter Paralympic sports to get you started, but the Team USA site also has information on the sports, including how you can get your child involved and where to e-mail your questions.
5. Get some gear. The Team USA Shop has Paralympics items among its offerings.
7. Follow on Facebook. Like the team's Facebook page at www.facebook.com/usparalympics.
8. Follow on Twitter. Subscribe to tweets from @USParalympics.
9. Subscribe to an e-Newsletter. Sign up to get U.S. Paralympics news by e-mail.
10. Find a local club. Search by location for Paralympics opportunities near you. Discover some local heroes, or set your child on a track to chase Paralympics glory one day.