North County Adaptive Sports & Recreation Program

The North County Adaptive Sports & Recreation Program is an amazing program for a group of Central Coast citizens that needed to find each other to work and play together. Families network together and things happen within their communities. This story ran the summer of 2018, but was a long time coming to print, but well worth the wait since it merged groups together to play together. Enjoy and maybe you’ll want to get involved.

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Photo by Tom Grant

Symbiotic Networking is defined as business and community representatives of like-purpose and interests coming together for mutual benefits. You won’t find it defined in the dictionary or listed as one of the top business practices in INC. Magazine, but it produces results – instantly or after years of nurturing relationships. And when it all clicks magic happens for all concerned.

For example, San Luis Sports Therapy, Morro Bay Councilman Matt Makowetski, North County Adaptive Sports and Recreation Program, Cal Poly University, the cities of Morro Bay and Atascadero and Project Surf Camp – just to name a few of the beneficiaries — realized Symbiotic Networking’s results when linking their business models to nonprofit community projects.

The magic happens again Friday, June 29, from 11am to 5pm at 890 Shasta in Morro Bay when the public is invited to the 6th Annual Benefit Barbecue for Project Surf Camp hosted by Clinic Director Michael Williams, owner of San Luis Sports Therapy (www.slsportstherapy.com).

“We move out the therapy equipment to become a cafeteria,” Williams said. “It’s a pre-holiday free lunch. I provide the Tri-tip and friends help barbecue and bring side-dishes. Local businesses donate gifts and we draw tickets all afternoon. Last year we gave $5,600 to Project Surf Camp. We’re hoping to give over $6,000 this year.”

Williams’ converted an annual appreciation potluck to a community event ultimately benefitting three nonprofits — Project Surf Camp, United Blood Services and the North County Adaptive Sports and Recreation Program.

“When I opened the business in 2002, I decided to thank everyone with a BBQ before the 4th of July holiday. We also offered a blood drive with United Blood Services. It grew every year until we were at around 200 guests.”

At the same time, Williams and Makowetski coached their children in youth recreation programs. A teacher during the school year, Makowetski spent his summers helping John Taylor, founder of Project Surf Camp, provide ocean experiences for special needs adults and children. When Makowetski explained the concept of Project Surf Camp to Williams, he realized, “It was right up my alley. More than 200 good-hearted people already enjoy our barbecue. Why not make it a community event?”

Williams admired that John Taylor enjoyed surfing with a prosthesis and created Project Surf Camp www.projectsurfcamp.org so everyone on the Central Coast might experience ocean recreation – especially those with varying disabilities.

The day camps are half-days at Morro Rock Beach near the Morro Creek outlet. Four paid specialists and many community groups and individuals volunteer to provide the instruction and safety support for the campers as they test out the waves.

Ron Vasconcellos is a longtime participant of San Luis Sports Therapy’s wellness program. He suggested to Williams the NCASARP (www.ncasarp.org) participants, fondly called the Bulldogs, were a perfect group to benefit from a surf camp session. Ron and his wife Ruth started NCASARP in 2010 with several parents, Cal Poly coaches, and professors, students and community volunteers to develop a year-round, county-wide sports and recreation program for kids and adults who live with developmental disabilities.

“We were looking for more activities — sports and social activities — for our son, Chris,” said Vasconcellos. The program launched when Atascadero Parks & Recreation offered their gym one-day weekly all year long. Bulldogs’ families and board members operate the activities for the nonprofit. “It takes a village – so many partners have helped develop it into a county-wide program.  Kevin Taylor, Cal Poly Kinesiology Department (www.calpoly.edu), Coach Faith Mimnaugh and Cal Poly students have made a big difference.”

The Bulldogs recently received the Paul Wolff Accessibility Advocacy Award during a Community Foundation Awards Night recognizing Cal Poly’s participation. At least 18-20 students participate weekly offering everything from strengthening skills to high-fives and friendship. “Many students have changed their career paths after their involvement in our program,” said Vasconcellos. “Our Bulldogs respond to those closer to their age.”

Regularly 35 participants from 13-70 years old show up to play basketball, volleyball, broomball, kickball or line dancing in Atascadero. Each Monday Kennedy Fitness in San Luis offers their pool for aquatics. Social activities like bowling, pizza parties, Blues Baseball, and Cal Poly sporting events become social get-togethers for Bulldogs and families. Discounted Ride-On transportation is available.

Thus, Project Surf Camp was a natural expansion activity for the Bulldogs and Vasconcellos had volunteers to help to support a day at camp.

Williams liked the idea. Not only could his business and patrons support Project Surf Camp financially, but his staff would benefit with on-the-job-training sea-side working with special needs campers. “Saturdays are the only days we can take off from our regular patrons,” said Williams. “This year our day with the Bulldogs is July 21.

Indeed, Symbiotic Networking makes things happen. June 29 meet the team at Michael Williams’ barbecue. Many will go home with a Coast Electronics-donated television, or a surfboard, or restaurant gift certificates or…..good vibrations for networking to help Project Surf Camp in 2018.

And now it is 2019…all the programs are ongoing through the year and then summertime Project Surf Camp will kick in again. Will your group be involved?

 

 

 

 

 

 

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