When Abby first contacted Reach for Resources, she was excited at the opportunity to volunteer a few hours each week in the summer. She never ended up volunteering…and instead was hired as a part-time Inclusion Specialist. That was two years ago.
When asked what piqued her interest in working as an Inclusion Specialist, she shared that “We can all learn from each other, regardless of individual strengths and weaknesses.” This is the epitome of inclusion and encompasses so much of what Reach stands for. At Reach for Resources, we offer many types of programs. The Inclusion Specialist role at Reach promotes success for people with disabilities, and those without. These staff members work together with coaches and instructors in the community to blend in, providing the minimum support needed at any given time while encouraging independence and skill building for all participants. Inclusion staff members support children and adults in all types of programs such as dance, t-ball, summer camps, art classes, yoga, paddle boarding, chemistry club, swimming lessons, and more.
In addition to her role at Reach, Abby (pictured, right) works as a special education teacher and emphasizes the importance of ensuring that “kids with disabilities aren’t automatically isolated from their peers,” as inclusion “benefits all parties involved.” Abby’s passion to support others in succeeding with their goals, no matter how big or small, is evident. She encapsulates this in saying “We as a society need to normalize differences starting at a young age, and the inclusion of those with disabilities in city recreational programs is one place to start.”
While Abby loves her teaching job, she appreciates the opportunity to apply her skills in new ways supporting individuals one-on-one at Reach. “The low staff-to-kid ratio allows me to focus all my attention on the child […] as much as needed.” The opportunity to work with young people and get them engaged in new and exciting ways is a win. “Recreation programs are fun because they exist solely for kids to have fun!” Abby’s role would not be as enjoyable without support. “Emily, my supervisor, is awesome. She does an incredible job of giving information that I need before I start, [and is] so responsive.”
When asked what motivates her, it was easy for Abby to say it’s the kids she supports. She exclaims it is “so motivating that they get out there, brave whatever conditions they encounter, and are involved and included.” She hopes to continue in her role while training new team members and looks forward to spreading the word about Reach so more families can access services. We hope so too, Abby. Thanks for all you do!