WHY WE EXIST
An estimated 75,000 people were living with disabilities in 2010 in DC, 6,000 of which were children between the ages of 5 and 17. Many of these people have multiple disability types, which include physical and developmental disabilities. In the last few years, as there has been greater attention on exercise and health (such as Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! Campaign), we have recognized the importance of providing activities for children with disabilities not only to get them physically moving, but also enable them to bond with their peers. Children with disabilities want to have friends, enjoy activities, have a break from parents, and be included like everyone else.
There are very few communities and programs that allow children with disabilities to interact with their peers in a comfortable environment where they are not subject to insensitivity. With 6,000 children with disabilities living in just the DC area, and more living in the surrounding states of Maryland and Virginia, there is a need for more regularly planned activities and events for this group. Currently, there are many communities for families with physical and developmentally disabled children; however, there is a well documented need for more recreational activities for these children. There is a need to provide more and a larger variety of activities on a regular basis.
Adaptive physical clinics help move children with disabilities off the sidelines to engage in sports, arts, and other recreational activities. When adaptive programs are inclusive of all ages and all disabilities, as well as non-disabled peers and siblings, it allows those with disabilities to grow beyond the segregated settings that have existed for so many years. This variety and inclusion give children a chance to try different sports, add to the skills developed, and increase the likelihood of finding activities for lifetime participation, which can improve social skills.
In a study conducted by the Adaptive Sports Center and Brigham Young University on Quality of Life Benefits Through Participation in Adaptive Sports For Individuals with Physical Disabilities.
89.5% of individuals reported feeling that their adaptive sports experience had a very positive or positive influence on feeling empowered in their life.
100% of individuals reported feeling that their adaptive sports experience had a very positive or positive influence on their self confidence.
94.7% of individuals felt that their adaptive sports experience had a very positive or positive influence on their overall health.
It is clear that adaptive physical activities have a positive influence on people with disabilities. As a result, it is important for us to organize and provide these opportunities to children with disabilities.
OUR STRATEGIC EDGE
Volunteer support: We differentiate ourselves from our competitors by the quality and abundance of volunteer support we offer. Each of our clinics ensures a 1:1 ratio of volunteer to participant. This ensures that every child who comes to one of our events, regardless of their ability, will be engaged at the appropriate level and ensure maximum enjoyment and development while in our programs.
Partnerships: To ensure high level instruction and to keep expenses low, we leverage partnerships with professional and amateur sports teams and leagues. This enables us to use the equipment and expertise of existing entities to create high level clinics with little overhead.
DREAMS FOR KIDS HISTORY
Dreams For Kids Inc. was founded by Tom Tuohy, at the request of his mother, Patricia Tuohy. Mrs. Tuohy was a single parent who dedicated her life to raising her four young children, and to overcoming any adversity that stood in the way of her family’s personal welfare. The organization was born at a homeless shelter on December 24, 1989, in the Englewood neighborhood on the Southside of Chicago, Illinois. On Christmas Eve, a dozen volunteers, including Santa, showed up at “Clara’s House” with Tom to visit 54 children living in there. When Clara told the volunteers that the kids would never have known it was Christmas if not for their visit, a commitment was made to reach out to this population each and every year.
Every year the annual Holiday for Hope event grew until it became the largest of its kind in the state of Illinois, bringing over 1,000 homeless and at-risk kids together for a special day of generosity and paying it forward. It is now the largest event of its kind in the world, held in over 30 countries each December.
In 1996, Dreams For Kids was introduced to another group of isolated children—those with developmental and physical disabilities. When Tom met a young man named JJ, who became paralyzed during a hockey incident, soon the need was recognized for a program to meet the social and physical needs for kids who had no organized sports or social activities available to them. Thus began Extreme Recess, the first adaptive sports program of its kind for kids with disabilities.
In 2009, Andrew Horn founded Dreams For Kids’ first expansion chapter Washington, D.C. In 2011, Glenda Fu was appointed as the new Executive Director. Due to a well documented increase in the request for adaptive sporting clinics in the DC area, Glenda and the organization decided to focus their effort primarily on scaling and sustaining the Extreme Recess program to provide maximum benefit to our participants and donors.
In 2013, Dreams for Kids DC incorporated and received its own Tax ID to establish the organization as its own non-profit entity (separate from the Chicago chapter). In 2013, Dreams For Kids DC also founded its first official Executive Board and is excited to continue growing and streamlining its operation.
In 2014, Dreams for Kids DC (DFKDC) was recognized by the IRS as an official 501(c)(3) children’s charity.