No Barriers Summit comes to Park City
Hundreds of people from around the country will be trekking to Park City this week seeking one thing: inspiration.
They are coming to attend the No Barriers Summit, a four-day event designed to embolden participants and show them they don’t need to let the challenges they face hold them back.
"What the summit is ultimately about is to remind people that what’s within you is stronger than what’s in your way," said David Shurna, executive director of No Barriers USA, which created the event.
No Barriers USA is partnering with the National Ability Center to put on the summit, which will run July 9-12. This is the first time the annual event is coming to Park City, and Gail Loveland, executive director of the National Ability Center, said that’s a big deal. Park City and the National Ability Center edged out roughly 30 other sites that were considered.
"This brings people from around the country," Loveland said, "and we’re thankful for that opportunity that people are going to be able to see not just what the National Ability Center has here but what Park City has to offer and how much our community embraces people of all abilities."
The event has a large scope, so Shurna said it was important to choose a partner and location well-suited to provide attendees with a top-flight experience. Park City and the National Ability Center were a perfect fit.
"What we look for in a partner is the ability to really connect us with the local community," Shurna said. "It has to be rooted in the local community and be making a difference. In the case of the National Ability Center, it goes beyond the local community to throughout the state and nationally. We said, ‘Wow, they not only have a regional footprint, but they’re well-respected nationally as one of the best adaptive organizations in the country.’"
The summit features a wide range of activities. Speakers who have overcome challenges share their stories, technology companies devoted to helping those with disabilities show off their latest products, and attendees go hands-on in a variety of outdoor activities.
"When you combine all of what we offer, what we find is you get true transformation," Shurna said. "I mean, we do the No Barriers Summit to transform lives, and we believe it does that. That’s what we hear from our participants."
The message of hope and personal transformation is why the National Ability Center wanted to become involved in the summit. Loveland said No Barriers USA shares the values the ability center tries to instill in the people it serves.
"For us, it’s just another way to reinforce our mission and to strive to help individuals of all abilities and all backgrounds to see that there are great opportunities," she said. "You have to focus on what you can do, not what you can’t do."
Shurna said about half of the estimated 800 participants of the event suffer from disabilities. Others struggle with diseases or have grown up in an impoverished neighborhood. All have faced adversity in their lives.
"We believe going through trauma in some way at some point in your life is a fundamental human experience," Shurna said. "Those people who work through those times all share something really special, and this summit brings them all together. Somehow they’ve tapped into this human ability that they have, some light in them that says, ‘Hey, no matter what I’m facing, I’m going to figure out a way to get through it."
Registration is still available for the summit. People can register for the entire event or choose which activities to attend. For a full list of options, visit nobarrierssummit.org. Shurna encouraged those who can’t participate in the whole event to attend Thursday’s opening ceremony. The ceremony will feature former Olympic swimmer Amy Van Dyken, who has overcome a traumatic injury; Josh Blue, an award-winning comedian with cerebral palsy; and painter John Bramblitt.
"It’s a very dynamic and powerful experience," Shurna said. "It’s only two hours, but at the end of it, you leave in that spirit of thinking you’re strong within. You say, ‘Gosh, if these guys can do this, I can do anything.’"
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