Have you ever struggled to participate in an activity that was inaccessible to you? Have you felt or seen the tears, frustration, and sadness that result?
At FACT Oregon, we interact with families every day whose children are told they can’t participate. Or only in a limited way. Or only in a certain place. Or only if it’s not “too hard.”
FACT Oregon created the All Ability Tri4Youth to provide youth with and without disabilities an opportunity to compete together in a triathlon open and accessible to all. Participation in community sports and recreation is a key aspect of pursuing a whole life for many families. All our kids deserve to participate in a way that celebrates their effort, recognizes barriers, and addresses their needs so that they can be successful.
Read this story from Angie Sims about her daughter’s experience:
“It is often difficult for Ruby to participate in organized sports or events. She has a hard time following concepts and directions. Ruby has several diagnoses that help explain why Ruby “does life” a bit differently — epilepsy, autism, ADHD…but for us, it’s just Ruby! This year Ruby, participated for the first time in FACT Oregon’s All Ability Tri4Youth. She had fun, and so did we!
Ruby succeeds best when she can watch and then do and when she is familiar with a venue. Thankfully, FACT Oregon allowed participants to come the day before to drop off bikes, see the facilities, and look at the course. They shared a social story and communication board, and we watched a video about the event. We talked about how everyone participates differently. Ruby felt very independent and empowered participating with her teammate and caregiver Dawn while we cheered her on from the sidelines. Although she was nervous, she was also excited, and with everyone cheering for her, Ruby felt like a star! She was able to take that energy and stay focused through the finish line.
At the All Ability Tri4Youth, everyone is a winner. Every participant is genuinely supported, and the event is relaxed, sensory friendly, and with no expectations except to have FUN. And really, that is our main focus in life. At other events, we feel the need to explain Ruby’s behaviors or teach her social norms she doesn’t fully grasp. But at FACT Oregon, we just see acceptance.
For us, the All Ability Tri4Youth is a fun way to be a part of something bigger. It is truly magical to be involved in a community that allows us all to recognize life for what it really is. I give thanks for Ruby leading me to this place in life and thank FACT Oregon for the ongoing education, support, and unique events to allow us to come together and witness greatness in all of its forms!”
But FACT Oregon needs your help. The All Ability Tri4Youth is one of many ways we support families and connect them to resources and community. Our trainings and peer support line help families get information and guidance on special education, disability services, behavior, assistive technology, visioning, community access, planning for adulthood, and more. This year, we are traveling across the state with our free day-long Regional Learning Summits. And our support team is busy connecting with families by phone and email in English and Spanish, and working through interpreters in other languages.
If you value being part of a community that, as Angie says, “allows us to come together,” then the time to donate is now.
Your generosity ensures our ongoing ability to support families experiencing disability.
We are grateful to The Collins Foundation for a 1:1 CHALLENGE MATCH.
Donate today to take advantage of this 1:1 match of new and increased gifts!