Nine years ago, Steve Brooks and his wife Tracy suffered a significant family tragedy when her brother died unexpectedly.
His son, Joel, was a 21-year-old special needs young man who had just graduated high school in Colorado and was now all alone. Steve and Tracy opened up their home to Joel and themselves to a whole new world of adult special needs individuals.
“That’s when we discovered Advocates for Special People (ASP), which was a Godsend!” says the 56-year-old Brooks, who is now the executive director of the Arlington-based organization. “ASP is now more than a job for me, it is a passion.”
ASP is a family support organization that utilizes three Special Connexion day habilitation programs to provide recreational, social and fitness activities for intellectually disabled adults. The organization helps these individuals access peer contact, increase movement and assists with integration and activities in the community through such outings as field trips to parks, movies, restaurants, museums and other educational experiences throughout the Metroplex.
“ASP currently serves 92 clients in the three Special Connexions day programs, an additional two dozen athletes known as the Arlington Eagles who participate in Special Olympics events, plus an additional 2 to 3 dozen who participate in seasonal dances, picnics and the Arlington July 4th Parade,” says Brooks.
Brooks explains that when a child reaches 22 years of age, most school districts and government provided education and socialization programs are no longer available because the child “ages out” of their courses. That’s why in 1997, a group of parents of young adults with intellectual disabilities formed Advocates for Special People, Inc. Their goal was to offer opportunities for their intellectually disabled adult children to participate in mentally and physically challenging activities with peers and the community. In 2002, ASP incorporated as a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization and continued with its mission to improve the quality of life of intellectually disabled adults and their families by providing programs for socialization, recreation and habilitation... read more