National Disability Awareness Month was in full swing as Army Community Service, or ACS, on Fort Huachuca held their 2nd annual Disability Awareness Fair on Friday at Murr Community Center. Agencies from all areas of Arizona were there to help inform the community of the resources available to the disabled.
Audrey Peterson-Hosto, the Exceptional Family Member program manager from ACS stated that “We have agencies from the Veterans Administration, Social Security, Cochise College Small Business, Workforce Development, Arizona Developmental Disabilities Planning Council, Sierra Vista Commission on Disability Issues, and many more wonderful programs are here to share the information that they have available for people that otherwise wouldn’t know where to find it. These agencies truly run the gamut with the range of services that are offered from disability services, veteran’s services, child services, respite care and assisting individuals with developmental disabilities to be able to live on their own and find a job.”
Also at the Disability Awareness Fair was Special Olympics Arizona. Bill Anderson from the Coronado Chapter out of Tucson spoke of the new things coming up through their agency. “We have received a Department of Defense grant to expand Special Olympics on military installations and one of the programs that we want to focus on is called the Young Athletes Program or YAP. This program focuses on the 2 ½ to 7-year-olds. We go into the pre-schools and elementary schools and train the teachers to be instructors on developing motor skills, and we also provide all the equipment to them and this is all part of the grant.”
The Arizona Special Olympics also has a program that pairs up teenagers with disabilities to train and compete with other athletes without disabilities. The Unified Sports Program is an inclusive sports program through high school athletes. Through this program, it gives high school students with disabilities the opportunity to go beyond just the local competitions.
Anderson stated “The sky is truly the limit for these young kids. They have the ability to not only go to the national level, but also all the way to the World Special Olympics.”
The Special Olympics of Arizona will be in engaging in talks about the YAP program at Fort Huachuca in November. Through the grant they are receiving, Fort Huachuca will be one of the first military installations to host this type of program. Through YAP, a child acquires and improves fundamental skills such as balance, running, jumping, catching, throwing and kicking. The program also offers opportunities for language development, social interaction and learning numbers, colors, shapes and much more, according to Anderson.
For more information on any of the programs or agencies that were at the Disability Awareness Fair, contact ACS, 533.2330.