Pam Stickler created the RECing Crew out of a desire to find something for her son Stephen to do.
Now, 10 years later, the organization has grown significantly and provides leisure and recreational activities to about 150 members from Aiken, Edgefield, Richmond and Columbia counties.
“They get to enjoy and have a lot of experiences,” said Stickler, executive director. “They learn something they can do and it helps build confidence. It makes them feel like they belong.”
On Saturday, members, their families, volunteers and other supporters joined Stickler in celebrating the organization’s 10th year.
The organization reaches out to those with disabilities and its programs include T-RecS, which consists of adaptive basketball and baseball; Alley Cats, for bowling; Jazzercise; ART-ability Studio with art instruction and music therapy; Cruisers for social activities; and it has a team that participates in the Family Y’s Miracle League program, which offers competitive adaptive baseball.
Alley Cats, which was the nonprofit’s first program, began with an average of about 25 participants each week. Now, it averages 80 to 82 participants per week.
For member Michael Bradley, it’s his favorite activity out of the several activities he participates in.
“I have fun bowling,” he said.
He enjoys and looks forward to seeing his friends each week, he said.
Other programs were added over the years as families talked with each other and began sharing ideas about what else the organization could offer, said Stickler.
Peg Monahan was among the first group of parents to get involved in the organization along with Stickler.
Her daughter, Katie, like Bradley, is also involved in many of the activities.
“She likes to get out amongst her friends,” said Monahan.
Seeing it grow to what it has become has been unbelievable, she said.
“Word of mouth is very powerful,” she said. “People hear about it from the schools, from reading articles in the paper, or from other parents and they pass it on.”
The organization’s program teaches members life skills, said Monahan.
“I think it helps them gain some independence,” she said.
While there are volunteers and instructors involved in the programming, family input and support is very valuable and has also been a key to its success, said Stickler.
“Our families have a say,” she said. “We share ideas. They also get very involved.”
Rose Mary and Philip Bradley, Michael Bradley’s parents, have also been involved with the organization for the past several years.
“We were so incredibly happy we came,” said Rose Mary.
One of the important things about the organization is that the program’s participants are among peers and they get to enjoy activities without judgment.
“They can be themselves,” she said. “They make friends here and most importantly, they’re not judged.”
The organization has also created a support system for parents.
“It’s like a big family,” she said. “We all get together and socialize. We’re also able to share mutual experiences. We’re able to network. It’s a good network for parents.”
Looking toward the future, Stickler would like to duplicate the activities in surrounding cities and bring the activities closer to some of the members’ homes. It would also be a way to reach even more people and families in the area.
“I truly believe we’re only touching the surface, she said.