Children's Hospital Colorado
Orthopedics Institute
Orthopedics Institute

Adaptive Recreation for Childhood Health (ARCH)

A kid wearing a blue ski suit, helmet and goggles rides on a ski sled while a man in a black ski suit, gray helmet and sunglasses pushes.Adaptive Recreation for Childhood Health (formerly the Hospital Sports Program or HSP) at Children's Hospital Colorado helps kids with physical disabilities find confidence and freedom through sports and outdoor recreation. Plus, parents find comfort knowing their child is involved in a program with specialists who understand his or her condition and how it affects participation in sports and activities.

What is the purpose of ARCH?

ARCH provides recreational resources and programs for children, teens and young adults with physical disabilities. By focusing on individual abilities, the ultimate goal of this program is to help develop skills that lead to a lifetime of healthy leisure and awareness.

How the program got its start

The ARCH logo is a blue circle with a green abstract mountain and a sun on a blue sky.ARCH was one of the first of its kind in the United States. It began in 1968 as a way to get individuals with amputations involved in the sport of skiing.

This first group of ARCH skiers included young patients from Children’s Colorado and veterans from the Vietnam War being treated at Fitzsimons Army Hospital. Today, there are programs all over the world based on our current model. 

Skiing and beyond...

Though ARCH started with skiing, the program has expanded to include year-round recreational activities. Participants have a variety of physical and medical conditions including cancer, amputations, spina bifida, cerebral palsy, head and spinal cord injuries, and other orthopedic conditions.

Read stories of real patients involved in Adaptive Recreation for Childhood Health.

What activities are offered through Adaptive Recreation for Childhood Health? 

Though downhill skiing and snowboarding (through the National Sports Center for the Disabled at Winter Park Resort) remain ARCH's largest program component, we also offer year-round outdoor recreation activities. These experiences can vary according to opportunities and partnerships available in the community and over the years have included:

  • Biking
  • Golf
  • Horseback riding
  • Fishing
  • River rafting
  • Sailing
  • Tennis
  • Flying

Between winter skiing/snowboarding and summer programming, nearly 100 kids participate in ARCH each year. ARCH also serves as a resource for parents looking for additional recreational programs in the community.

Why choose Adaptive Recreation for Childhood Health at Children’s Colorado?

As a unique program created especially for kids with physical disabilities, ARCH at Children’s Colorado is known for the expertise of our instructors, volunteers and clinical staff. Because many of our instructors volunteer at the program year after year, there is a special relationship with kids and their instructors.

In addition to our instructors, our program is also known for the thought we put into matching each child and volunteer. Because many specialists from Children’s Colorado give their time and expertise as instructors, our volunteer team is able to provide insight into each child and disability – helping children find greater confidence, courage and enjoyment in the sport.

How to get your child involved in ARCH?

Please contact us directly for more information, as enrollment and details can vary by activity and your child’s medical condition. Call 720-777-6590 and we’ll answer any questions you may have.

Children's Colorado in the news

The Holyoke Enterprise

Adaptive Equipment Enables Skiing for Local Tech-Lover

Katie Gerk, 19, was born with spastic diplegic cerebral palsy, but that has not stopped her from skiing multiple seasons at Winter Park. Gerk is in the hospital's Adaptive Recreation for Childhood Health (ARCH) program, which began in 1968 as a way for kids with amputations to get involved with skiing. Since, the program has expanded to provide recreational resources for individuals with a wide range of medical conditions. Frank Chang, MD, orthopedic surgeon and medical director of the Center for Gait and Movement Analysis, is highlighted.