August 12 – Trinity Oaks, a 501(c)3 nonprofit based in San Antonio, has expanded their free outdoor programs to now include children with disabilities. “Unique Kids” will be a new program offered by Trinity Oaks and headed up by volunteer Marisa Poole, a special education teacher by profession. The Trinity Oaks’ Unique Kids will provide safe outdoor day-trip experiences for special needs children afflicted with Autism, Downs Syndrome, and other disabilities.
Trinity Oaks’ Founder and Board President, Tom Snyder, explains, “Marisa’s background and her love for the outdoors was the basis for the creation of ‘Unique Kids,’ which will be an extension of our existing youth outdoor programs that already impact the lives of over 1,500 youth in Texas annually. Marisa’s passion to make a difference in the lives of kids with disabilities is inspirational.” Snyder explained he saw it as a natural next step for Trinity Oaks in their mission to use the outdoors to impact lives.
Unique Kids will focus on getting children ages 6-13 into the outdoors for day events. Most of these events will revolve around fishing and nature-based activities at Trinity Oaks’ properties in Seguin, Port Mansfield, and Batesville, where there is access to adaptive equipment like ActionTrack Chairs and handicapped accessible facilities.
Trinity Oaks completed one Unique Kids event as a test run on August 8th. Trinity Oaks’ Executive Director, Britt Longoria, explained, “The event was an amazing success. We had 13 kids ages 6-12 at the 2,000 acre Thumbtack Ranch in Batesville for fishing and arrowhead hunting. Every one of the kids caught a fish and found arrowheads!” In nature, the children overcame limitations, interacted with similar kids, learned new skills and enjoyed the beautiful day outdoors. Longoria continues, “We are hoping this program will help the participants realize that, despite their unique circumstances, they are very capable and there are many avenues to enjoy the outdoors, which are often not easily accessible for special needs children.”
All of the kids were given fishing rod combos and Trinity Oaks hats as gifts. Snyder concluded, “Seeing how the demeanor of the kids changed from when they arrived to when they left was amazing. This five-hour event really made a difference for these kids. I am so excited to utilize the bounty of nature as a way to give back to our community.”
As with all Trinity Oaks programs, this program will be offered at no cost to participants. Trinity Oaks is excited to announce that Colonial Life, All Seasons Feeders, WildRose Apparel, Central Texas Wildlife Legacy Foundation, Texas Trophy Hunters Association, Dallas Safari Club, Safari Club International Foundation and the Houston Safari Club have already pledged their support towards this new endeavor.
Trinity Oaks is also looking for land owners that would be willing to host events, to enable the programs to expand and reach other parts of the state. Trinity Oaks is officially extending an opportunity to schools, government agencies and other nonprofits that might be interested in partnering with us to get these kids into the outdoors. They believe that working together we will truly be able to make a difference in the lives of a lot more kids!
Trinity Oaks’ mission is to use hunting, fishing, and outdoor experiences to give back and make a difference in the lives of others. Those people in need include families of children with life threatening illness and disabilities, disadvantaged children, and veterans suffering from both emotional and physical wounds of war. Since its inception in 2007, Trinity Oaks’ volunteers have helped tens of thousands of people in need with Dream Trips, Youth Programs, Veteran’s Programs, and processes and distributes over 100,000 pounds of game meat annually to orphanages, homeless shelters, and soup kitchens across Texas.
For more information on Unique Kids or to get involved visit www.trinityoaks.org or Trinity Oaks’ Facebook page!