“Outdoor adventures abound for Kinetic Kids,” by Joni Simon, Hill Country Weekly

Hill Country Weekly

By Joni Simon, Contributing Writer

Despite the record drought and temperatures reaching triple digits, Natalie Weiblen-Henry says the Outdoor Explorers Program at Joshua Lake this summer was a colossal success for families with special needs.

Over 25 children participated in a smorgasbord of events, including canoe, rides, pier fishing, Shooting at the targets with BB guns, building bird houses and boats, and creating their own dirt bowl at snack time.

Everyone left with favorite memories. For Katy Friend,11, catching the largest fish was hers. Samuel DeRousse, 8, experienced many firsts, including his first time riding in a

canoe and shooting a BB gun.

For some of the children, like Joshua Lira, 12, overcoming his fears was an accomplishment in itself.

The families had a great time, Henry says. Joshua Lake at Kendall County Parks is a fabulous facility.

She attributes the success of the program at Joshua Lake this year largely to the assistance of Kendall County Parks Manager Patrick Boyle and Kinetic Kids staff of experts, Scott Leblanc and Chuck Smith.

Kinetic Kids offers Outdoor Explorer Programs three times a year to its clients.

One of the goals in offering this type of program is to encourage families to explore the outdoors and provide children with special needs the opportunity to experience nature and other Fun outdoor activities in a safe setting, says Kacey Wernli, physical therapist, co-founder and co-executive Director of Kinetic Kids. Many times, our families worry if parks are truly accessible, are the kids to participate with everyone else and will the park experience be overwhelming to the child.

Wernli says such issues sometimes keep families from experiencing nature and the outdoors. Her response, she says, is researching to ensure the parks the organization visits will meet the needs of the children.

Kinetic Kids started as a T-ball league in 2001. By 2003 the organization also offer a dance, gymnastics and art to over 55 children with special needs.

We worked with many children with physical disabilities that had the desire to participate in sports and recreational programs, but there weren’t organizations that included them, Wernli said. Kinetic Kids makes dreams come true and at the same time, helps develop self-confidence, courage and pride in the lives of children with special needs.

Today, Kenetic Kids serves over 1,200 children with physical and cognitive disabilities in over 70 programs throughout the year. Wernli says physical, occupational and speech therapist direct each program to assure The safety and success of each participant.

as a nonprofit organization, Kinetic Kids relies on community support to fund the programs. Volunteers are important to the success of Kinetic Kids, Wernli says. Anyone over 15 can assist in a program and at an event or fundraiser.

Families raising children with special needs already have a huge monetary burden, Wernli says. Therefore, Kinetic Kids only charges a fee that covers 25% of the cost to run the program and seek the remainder from corporations, grants and individuals.

Kinetic Kids also offers scholarships to families and me. Anyone wishing to support the organization may go to www.kinetickidstx.org.