More than 60 blind and visually impaired children recently met in Salem, Oregon, to learn how to throw a javelin, take down an opponent with a judo move and feel the rush of wind from a tandem bicycle ride.
It was the largest Paralympic Experience hosted by the Northwest Association for Blind Athletes, the Vancouver-based organization dedicated to changing the lives of the blind and visually impaired with sports. The Kate & Marty Rifkin Group Foundation supports NWABA through grant funding that has allowed the organization to dramatically expand its programming in its service area of Oregon, Washington, Idaho and Montana.
A similar event was held the next week at a high school in Missoula, Montana. Stacey Gibbins, program director at NWABA, told a Missoula television station that for many children who attend one of the nonprofit’s events it's often the first time they have participated in a sporting event.
“We’re all about trying to empower these children so they can advocate for themselves,” Gibbins told the station.
NWABA launched its Sports Outreach Program in Missoula in 2010, which has grown to serve more than 1,000 people in 2015. Billy Henry, NWABA founder and executive director, said both events are the latest examples of how his organization is scaling its programs to serve an even larger number of blind and visually impaired people.