Future of City Program For Disabled People in Jeopardy

By: Rosie Barresi Email
By: Rosie Barresi Email

For those of you who don't know, the City of Colorado Springs has a program called, the Therapeutic Recreation Program. It's for handicapped people. They have 8,000 members and a waiting list, but because of budget cuts, it may get the ax.

"He just loves doing this," said Carol Smith whose husband volunteers to play the drums at many of the program's functions.

"This is our, 'Out On The Town Dance,' and it's just one of many programs we offer," said Diane Ridderhoff who is a Recreation Therapist with the Therapeutic Recreation Program funded by the City of Colorado Springs.

The 'Out On The Town Dance,' is an event they have every third Friday of the month.

"It's fun," said Paul who is one of the members.

"It feels wonderful," said Donna who is also a member.

The city funding the program and the more than 40 volunteers are all the ones who make the program possible for all the handicapped members. "They're gaining confidence, social skills and the opportunity to hang out with friends," said Ridderhoff.

Ridderhoff has been a Springs City Recreation Therapist for 15-years, for a reason. "It's a passion of ours," said Ridderhoff.

For several months they've known they're on the chopping block, but volunteers and workers are keeping focused and keeping their eyes on what's important, the members. "I believe since they're a little less fortunate we owe it to them, they need our help, they deserve our help," said Smith whose step-daughter is a member.

For now they are all crossing their fingers. "I think the value of compassion is one we can afford to support," said Smith.

They also hope they won't be needing to break the news to any of the members.

"I'm having a great time," said Paul.

"We're trying to remain optimistic that we can continue to serve people with disabilities," said Ridderhoff.

If you feel the program is worth saving members say there is power in numbers. They urge you to write a letter, make a phone call or send an e-mail to the city and let them know how you feel.

Some of the other activities they do are trips around the community, aquatic classes and outdoor adventure activities.

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