One of the most frustrating experiences a disabled individual faces may very well be the limitations society places on them without taking the time to learn about the person and the qualities they possess. Over the last few decades, society has slowly come to realize that people often labeled “disabled” are quite capable and crave the same amount of independence as anyone else. Fortunately, Hot Springs has several resources, organizations, and individuals dedicated to making sure these voices are heard and given the tools they need to succeed. Still, a large stigma still hangs above the heads of the disabled. This month’s issue is all about breaking down barriers and throwing the stigmas to the wind.
On the cover this month is Rock Steady Boxing, a fitness class for people with Parkinson’s disease hosted by First Baptist Church. The class is taught by fitness instructor Amy Johnson and uses various activities, big and small, to help athletes with the disease make progress with their diagnosis. Many of the people enrolled in the class have made great strides since starting the program. Johnson said many of the boxers who first came in using walkers to assist them are now able to walk freely, without assistance.
A large part of the efforts to provide disabled individuals with the space needed to blossom into independence are only made possible through hard work from organizations in the community like First Step. It provides disabled individuals with opportunities to live and work independently and offers three different types of therapy to help people conquer sensory and speech issues. People of all ages with disabilities have space at First Step where they are free to make their own decisions and set a path for future success.
Several area schools are also beginning to look at how they can better prepare their special needs students for life after school. Lakeside Middle School is on the forefront of this mission with their innovative Thirsty Thursday Program. Students at Lakeside Middle School spend class time on Wednesdays preparing several cups of lemonade to sell to teachers each Thursday. The students learn about different jobs, how to work with others and the basics of running a small business. Each month, the students collect their earnings and get to spend it during special activities planned by their teachers.
Each individual, organization, business, and school represented in this month’s issue works to ensure that anyone with disabilities in the community has the opportunity to reach their goals and break down any barriers standing in their way. Having healthy, happy, hardworking people is vital to the betterment of the community. With the help of these wonderful people featured in this issue of HER and others like them, Hot Springs can continue to extend a helping hand to those in disabled community.