Scholarships help youths to take part in some physical activities |

Scholarships help youths to take part in some physical activities

by Kate Gardner

Paulette Irving is providing a great way for students with disabilities to enjoy sports and recreational activities.

Irving is the Adaptive Physical Education Specialist for the Douglas County School District. She is in charge of I Can, an organization through the school district for students with disabilities and recently has begun a scholarship program within the organization.

“The main idea of the group is to get the parents involved with their kids’ recreational experiences. We have a swimming program, a dance program and recently, a skiing program,” Irving said.

The purpose of the scholarships is to provide parents with a way to get their children involved without spending a lot of money.

“Medical costs can limit fun times. With the scholarships, children and their parents will be able to get out more and have fun,” Irving said.

With the program, students are able to get discounted passes to specific places. For example, each student gets their own private instructor at Heavenly Ski Resort with a lesson for $20, with the $50 scholarship that is offered. The package regularly costs $70.

“I have been raising money for four years through service organizations in the community,” Irving said. “I had to buy the equipment and train the instructors up at Heavenly myself. They originally told me that I had to go to Alpine Meadows, but I talked them into letting us go there. We even get to stay on the Boulder side.”

In order to receive a scholarship, the parents have to fill out an application that can be received from Irving.

“I was astonished when I only received five or six,” she said. “I couldn’t believe that more parents didn’t take me up on the offer.

The scholarships are being limited to $100 per student and can be applied for twice a year.

“That way, if a student wants to participate in skiing and swimming, it will be possible,” Irving explained.

“I really feel that I am putting the money back into the community that I have raised,” Irving said. “This program has helped the community accept people with disabilities into their lives and their recreation.”

The scholarships are on a first- come, first-serve basis; however, Irving mentioned the scholarships’ flexibility.

“I had a parent donate their child’s scholarship to another student. It really is up to them, whatever they want to do with it,” she said.

Currently, students who have received scholarships have used them for swimming, dancing, skiing and one student is attending Camp Care at Zephyr Point.

“The camp cost $350. So, mom paid some, we used a scholarship, and the camp was able to offer financial help as well,” Irving said.

The I Can program has been in existence for nine years, and Irving has been involved for four.

The students have been dancing at Ann Peters’ Dance Workshop, skiing at Heavenly Valley and swimming at the Carson Valley Swim Center.

“I even have one student who is on the Dolfin Swim Team,” Irving said with pride.

Irving attended Chico State and got a bachelor of arts in physical education. She earned her teaching credentials at Sierra Nevada College and has been in the area for four years.

“I knew that I wanted to help people and in school, my favorite time was recess and P.E. With adaptive education, it all came together,” Irving said.

Irving mentioned that the program is always up for donations.

“We are in business because of the community. The help has been wonderful,” she said.

For information on donations, call 782-4355.

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