Thursday, April 14, 2016

Walla Walla area investing in recreational activities for developmentally disabled adults

Walla Walla, Wash., is investing in recreational activities for the region's developmentally disabled adults, who have limited opportunities once they age out of the student programs and summer camps, Sheila Hagar reports for the Walla Walla Union-Bulletin. “As we call it: ‘When the school bus doesn’t come anymore’,” Susan Atkins, coordinator for Washington state’s Parent to Parent (P2P) program, told Hagar.

P2P, which "provides emotional and informational support to families with kids with developmental disabilities through local chapters and coordinators," has support from Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee, who signed into law a bill proposed by local Rep. Maureen Walsh "for increasing the statewide reach of P2P." (Union-Bulletin photo by Greg Lehman: College Buddies program)

For the first time Walla Walla is forming a co-ed softball team for players with and without disabilities, Hagar writes. "The city has agreed to some rule flexibility for the special-needs players, and there are allowances for teams that want to play half-seasons. It makes for what looks a promising marriage of need and solution," said Amy Harris, who has a special-needs daughter. She told Hagar, "I’m really excited to try something different. This has never been done before.”

The Valley Disability Network, a nonprofit founded in 2014 that runs P2P, "has been able to offer bowling, holiday parties, basketball, coffee klatches and Challenger baseball for people up to age 22," Hagar writes. Pickle ball has recently been added  and the network "also sponsors no-host dinners for parents once a month, where legal, legislative, health and educational information is dispersed, and moms and dads can talk honestly about the challenges of parenting a special-needs adult." Also, Whitman College and Walla Walla University students "participate in the local Buddies program, meeting with their developmentally disabled partners throughout the school year for various activities."

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