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New Partnership Creates Inclusive Recreational Opportunities

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Colorado Springs, Colo - The National Inclusion Project has partnered with The City of Colorado Springs Therapeutic Recreation Program (TRP) to create an inclusive environment where children with and without disabilities can play, learn and laugh together. As part of the partnership, the National Inclusion Project provides the Let’s ALL Play program model, training, expertise, annual Power of Play Conference and a wide network of inclusion experts ready to problem solve and share best practices on ensuring that no child sits on the sidelines.

TRP is one of just 12 new organizations that the National Inclusion Project has chosen to partner with this year.  “We believe our partnership with the TRP will get us one step closer to making the inclusion of children with disabilities the expectation and not the exception,” says Nick Leisey, National Inclusion Project Executive Director.

“We’re excited to partner with the National Inclusion Project to aid us in furthering our philosophy and vision of enabling youth of all abilities to participate in the City of Colorado Springs recreation programs,” says Felicia Barnhart, a CTRS with the City’s Therapeutic Recreation Program.

The TRP’s goal is to provide better training to general recreation staff on how to be more fully inclusive in their programming. The TRP aims to be a better resource for general youth recreation activities and community centers in the areas of advocacy, education, and training.

Research shows overwhelming evidence that the Let’s ALL Play model helps children with disabilities improve self-esteem, social skills and confidence, while those without disabilities improved their leadership, problem solving and empathy skills. The model makes it possible for all children to come together, and participate in recreational activities such as swimming, arts and crafts, community service, physical fitness and more.  More importantly, it allows children with and without disabilities to create friendships that may have not been possible in other parts of their lives.

About the Therapeutic and Recreation Program: The TRP has been a valued part of the City of Colorado Springs Parks, Recreation & Cultural Services Department since the 1970's, focusing on serving people with disabilities in the Pikes Peak region. The mission of the TRP is to provide opportunities for youth and adults with disabilities to acquire skills that enable them to participate in leisure experiences of their choice and to enhance their abilities to function within a community setting. The TRP provides advocacy and support for individuals to participate in general recreation activities in addition to providing specialized programming.

About the National Inclusion Project: The National Inclusion Project was co-founded in 2003 by entertainer Clay Aiken and serves to bridge the gap that exists between young people with disabilities and the world around them.  By driving the movement for social inclusion in after school programs, summer camps, and community based activities, children of all abilities learn, play and laugh together. Over the last twelve years, the Project has provided training, curriculum, and support to YMCAs, JCCs, Boys & Girls Clubs, 4H, CampFire USA, Kids Museums, Zoos and other community organizations looking to become inclusive or enhance their inclusive programs. For more information on the National Inclusion Project and to help ensure no child sits on the sidelines, visit their website at www.inclusionproject.org.