When author Lori Borgman wrote, "You’ve developed the strength of a draft horse while holding onto the delicacy of a daffodil … you are the mother, advocate and protector of a child with a disability," she might very well have had Park City resident Julie Weldon in mind.
Julie is the mother of three kids. Her nine-year-old son Luke has mental and physical disabilities that doctors have not been able to identify. "We’ve had every type of neurological and genetic test available, but there’s no clear diagnosis. Doctors call it ‘an unexplainable kink in the chain,’" she says.
But instead of going the "why me?" route, Julie decided to turn her son’s disability into an opportunity for families struggling with the same situation.
"We have the National Ability Center up here, which is just wonderful, and all the special-ed programs in Luke’s schools are awesome and everyone is so supportive, I just wanted to find a way to make all the love and support that is out there circular: a place for special-needs kids to go be active, their siblings to participate, parents to find resources and people to volunteer," she says.
And so she took her ideas to Brian Hanton, program manager at Snyderville Basin Recreation, and together they brainstormed and decided to hold an adaptive open house. The first one was held a few weeks ago and was a huge success. "It was really rewarding for us to be able to give back like this," notes Brian. "It was not only an opportunity for kids to experience all sorts of activities, but it also let their parents sit back and relax. They didn’t have to be on alert the whole time."
Together, Julie and Brian are trying to grow this program, and Basin Recreation will host another adaptive open house this Friday from 5 to 7 p.m. at the Fieldhouse. Much like the last one, different stations will be organized for all ages and abilities. Balls, a bowling area, mats, bounce houses, t-ball and sensory stations will be set up.
"It’s great because there’s an activity for every child," Julie says. "Park City is so active, and when you have a child with a disability, you can’t all go mountain biking or skiing or hiking together. So these open houses are great because they are all-inclusive. There’s something for every member of the family. We all get to be active together."
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The Alpine Slide was a hit, so, why not try something a little more… extreme? Enter: Down The Tube.