Monday, September 29, 2008

One of the very cool things I have witnessed in the blind/VI community
over the past 18 months or so is the community appears to be seeking out
recreation in different ways. I strongly feel that the only way to
increase the participation of folks who are blind in sports is to have a
funding source that is dedicated to this purpose. There needs to be an
organization in California dedicated to increase opportunities for blind
folks to participate in competitive sport.
The existence of an organically formed group called Tandems Across the Bay highlights an unmet need for a
cycling program that is more tailored to tandem riders. The weekend
goalball practices that began outside of BORP's purview highlight an
unmet need for technical skill development. We have an increase in the
number of young, competitive judo athletes living in the Bay Area
without financial support to travel to Judo tournaments.

I live in a community with a 70% unemployment rate. Participants
in sports and recreation programs defy these statistics- 75% of Bay Area Outreach and Recreation Program (BORP)
blind participants are employed. I believe there is a direct correlation
between sport and success in the work place.
BORP will continue to be an important part of the blind community, and
at the same time, an organization that is exclusively dedicated to
athletes who are blind is very much needed in California.

All of that said, I'd love some feedback.
As a result of bringing home gold I will soon receive a check for $5000
from the USOC.
I would like to put this money back into the community. Specifically, I would like to put it into an organization that can support
Blind Athletes living in California. I am putting feelers out there
because what I'd really like to do is to leverage that $5000 and start
the organization with a budget two or three times that size.
I am not looking for a job or to create an organization that requires
staff; rather I want to create a mechanism for funding blind athletes
and to support programs that increase the participation of blind
athletes in competitive sport.
I have been thinking about this for quite some time and am in the
process of vetting it with my personal board of directors. This blog
gives me an unique opportunity to obtain feedback.
So, what do you think about Blind Athletes of California? Do you
think there is a need? What would an organization dedicated to sporting
opportunities for the blind look like to you? Any thoughts on leveraging
funds?

All the best,
Jessie

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Jessie,

I think that it's AWESOME that you want to use the money you earned from the Paralympic gold medal win for such a noble purpose! This is a very unselfish deed and you will reap a huge blessing from it if you use it to that end.

Having said that, what you were talking about kind of struck me on a couple of different levels. First, I am currently writing my masters thesis, which is developing a roadmap for a nonprofit organization to assist and bring together visual arts teachers that teach blind and VI students, whether in a specialized school setting, as I am, or in the public or parochial school sector as well. I'm currently reading two good resources about developing nonprofits for my thesis. I would suggest you do some research of your own in that area. I can send you a list of good resources to get your hands on if you want me to. I know you don't want to start out with a staffed agency, but it sounds like you may end up going that route with what you're planning on doing. I think it's great that you want to use your own funds and leverage them with some other sources. There are probably other nonprofits in your area that would be able to assist you. It'd be worth it to look around. There is a small foundation in Spartanburg SC, the town I work in, that does that kind of thing for small sports organizations. They will give funds to help with travel expenses, etc. for teams or individuals participating in sanctioned sporting events. I definitely would encourage you to do some research, both in nonprofit structure and seeing what nonprofits in your area have missions that might coorelate with what you want to do.

On another front, it makes me realize how much we NEED an organization like that in South Carolina! I'd love to start one here myself, but don't really have the time or the resources to do it. We need it badly though. We have kids graduating from the school I teach at who could really go places with their goalball, but they have no avenue to do that because there are no adult teams or leagues in South Carolina. There are also some like myself that want to play but more on a recreational level. I got in a bit too late to be really competitive, I'm afraid, but I enjoy the game immensely and I'm thankful that Coach Lou and Coach Merriweather allow me to attend practices with the students, help out where I can, and even let me get some playing time in here and there when the teams have scrimmages. (Coach Merriweather is pretty impressed with my defensive play and I scored twice on the boys' team the first time I played.) But it would be such an awesome thing to be able to play with some other adults. I think the interest is there and it would get a good response, as lots of the young adults that graduate from the school tend to stay in the area for a few years after to go to college or to continue their school careers. Perhaps after I finish my thesis I may have more time on my hands to persue it.

I wish you all the best as you try to work out your own plans! Let me know if I can be of any assistance!

Jamie

B said...

Hi there,
I am trying to find financial sponsors for my son. He has been asked to swim by Jimi Flowers- the manager, swimming national team/ Coach, resident program Paralympics..for the 6th Annual GTAC Disability Open in Cincinnati in May 15-17,2009. Also, Jim Peterfish, the Head Swimming Coach for the US Association of Blind Athletes (USABA) has selected Austin to represent the US in the International Blind Sports Association - World Youth Games (WYG) in Colorado Springs this July. Austin is a freshman in High School. He is very motivated young man that has goals of competing in the Paralympics some day.

Austin's financial need for flights costs and accommodations to make it to these events. It is sad that money is such a important component to athlete participation.

I am acting as his advocate in providing positive experiences for Austin.

Any assistance and ideas you could give me for this athlete would be appreciated.

Thank you in advance for your time