The Partners Advancing Character Education (PACE) Character Trait for September is Respect
ParaSport Spokane has seen dramatic growth and an uncanny level of retention over this summer. As an organization that is only a year old, many key learning’s from previous involvement with other adapted sport programs were folded into the planning and operations of this group. What is the reason for our growth? Why are athletes continuing to come back? The answer is simple, RESPECT.
At ParaSport Spokane, participants feel respected as they are appreciated and they develop a sense of belonging as they are invested in as athletes first. This is a place that their hopes and dreams (no matter how small or grandiose) matter. The fun and active environment where growth comes from interaction with both peers and volunteer staff at ParaSport Spokane is rooted in respect.
For example, at our August 20 track and field practice, two new athletes made their first appearance on the the track. Having never been in a wheelchair racing chair before, there was a great deal of hesitation and shyness at first. The start of practice is always a flurry of activity as athletes show up, put air in their tires, check the maintenance of their racing chairs, prepare equipment and set off of to start their warm-up. ParaSport Spokane’s track and field event athletes were showing up and getting underway all around the two newcomers and their families. The diversity of the program was on display at this practice with the youngest member at age 5 up to an athlete in their mid thirties who has also just discovered ParaSport.
The newcomers were fitted, given a quick safety briefing, strapped on the helmet and gloves and off they went around the track. In doing so, they were surrounded by at least one other peer athlete who was also in their racing wheelchair and was encouraging them, helping them problem solve and honoring their effort. As the new athletes made their way around the quarter mile track, they would stop for adjustments and modifications from the coaching staff as needed.
Despite a rainy end to practice these two new athletes both committed, with enthusiasm, that they would be back the following week. So, why the big change in their outlook? The shift from shyness doused with a bit of fear? RESPECT! The ParaSport Spokane athletes and coaches all valued their worth, knew the struggles that they would face in trying out the race chair for the first time, and honored their effort first and foremost. When surrounded by positivity and good role models, one can feel like they can conquer anything.
As ParaSport Spokane continues to impact more and more persons with physical disabilities by using sport as a venue to grow and thrive, we are excited to share these stories through are partner organizations such as PACE.
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