Guests from the Adventure For All group enjoy playing in the General Mills Lift, Load & Haul Exhibit at the Scott Family Amazeum.
Everyone wants a place to belong, a place where their individual talents, goals, and dreams can be realized. But for many people with exceptionalities (sometimes referred to as disabilities), a lack of resources or support system can lead to feelings of discouragement and isolation.
This past summer, the Amazeum welcomed a group of guests from Adventure For All, a nonprofit organization committed to redefining the human potential for individuals with exceptionalities and inspiring cohesive communities. Adventure For All seeks to redefine inclusion and inspire hope for a world where everyone, regardless of their exceptionalities, can excel and contribute to society in meaningful ways.
Biking is one of the main adventure activities that Adventure For All uses to help their athletes grow and gain confidence. As a part of their community outreach in 2023, the Adventure For All team led a national tour across the United States, participating in bike races and hosting film premieres in four different cities. The tour kicked off with a week-long visit to Bentonville, Arkansas. The highlights of their trip included an afternoon of play at the Amazeum, a film premiere at Crystal Bridges, and plenty of biking in the city which is the Mountain Biking Capital of the World.
Chase Pettey, Founder and CEO of Adventure For All, believes that his work goes beyond training athletes. It is part of a larger societal shift towards supporting individuals with exceptionalities so that they feel accepted and included. Chase notes the importance of education surrounding the topic of inclusion, and is working to change these perspectives.
Chase believes in the power of learning by doing, and it is a key practice among the Adventure For All team as they work with athletes to help them gain confidence. When reflecting on the impact that coaching athletes has on his life, Chase commented, “Ultimately, these athletes make us better humans. They make us more patient, more kind and they love us unconditionally. They give us the gift of realizing that is what actually matters in life when you are measuring happiness.”
Chase continued, “These athletes remind people what it means to invest in another person. That spark is the reflection of what life should feel like.”
Chase Pettey, Founder and CEO of Adventure For All, is pictured helping a young girl learn how to ride a bike in an outdoor adventure program tailored to individuals with exceptionalities. (Photo Credit: Adventure For All).
Dani Williams, Director of Program Development and Athlete Evolvement for Adventure For All, sees learning as a key component of AFA’s programs and a fundamental part of growth for the athletes she works with. Dani has worked in special education for over a decade, interacting with a diverse range of students including individuals with autism, cognitive delays, and intellectual and developmental disabilities. She believes that, “Learning definitely happens most often outside of the classroom walls.”
Dani emphasized, “My passion is supporting those within special populations, and teaching and educating about how we can be inclusive and meet others halfway. Often times, we expect those in special populations to come to us. We need to step into their world and come to them."
Adventure For All coaches help the athletes they work with to develop physical, social, emotional, and cognitive skills. Adventure activities are a practical and fun outlet to encourage the development of these skills. These athletes enjoy participating in an environment that is conducive to growth and learning while experiencing a sense of belonging around coaches who are cheering them on. In a similar way, the Scott Family Amazeum aims to provide an environment where people can learn and grow while experiencing a sense of belonging among team members who are committed to making the Amazeum a place for everyone to enjoy.
Mindy Porter, Chief Learning Officer at the Scott Family Amazeum, believes that accessibility is important because it is at the heart of the Amazeum’s core purpose. “We intentionally use the word ‘all’ to underscore that all people are able and deserve to have their curiosity and creativity sparked and nurtured. ‘All’ to the Amazeum encompasses all people regardless of age, ability, background, culture, ethnicity, or interests. We all as humans have a common desire for dignity, respect, and the opportunity to participate fully in what life has to offer."
Mindy remarked, “The Amazeum anchors our accessibility efforts in the belief that we are building experiences with our community, not for our community. We partner closely with many NWA organizations, businesses, and families to co-create the Amazeum experience to be an inclusive environment. We spend time listening to the stories, challenges, and successes of families and service providers. These community insights, combined with industry best practices, shape the experiences and programs into the inclusive environment we are proud to offer at the Amazeum.”
The Amazeum engages community partners to provide ongoing training sessions for Amazeum team members. These sessions focus on deepening team members' understanding of the unique challenges encountered by families who have individuals with exceptionalities.
Sean Pfalzgraf, Treasurer and Chief Financial Officer of Adventure For All, is pictured with an athlete enjoying the General Mills Lift, Load & Haul exhibit at the Scott Family Amazeum.
The Scott Family Amazeum seeks to spark and nurture the curious and creative spirit in all of us. One aspect of this core purpose is providing an inclusive environment designed so that all guests to the Amazeum can access experiences in science, technology, engineering, art, and math (STEAM). Most areas of the Amazeum are accessible by people using assistive technologies, and resources such as the Sensory Friendly Map and Social Narrative are available to guests when planning a visit to the Amazeum.
The Scott Family Amazeum welcomes people of all ages and abilities to experience the variety of exhibits, events, and programs which are available year round at the Amazeum. The Amazeum partners with other local nonprofit organizations, such as AbilityTree, to pursue educational training opportunities to better serve individuals with exceptionalities and their families. The Amazeum also hosts events throughout the year, including Sensory Friendly Days and HallowZING, to provide opportunities for play and exploration.
Adventure For All shares a common goal with the Scott Family Amazeum in creating spaces for people of all ages and abilities to have fun, learn by doing, and achieve more than what they think is possible. The Amazeum exists to spark and nurture the curious and creative spirit in all of us, and we will continue growing and evolving in the future to work towards achieving this core purpose. Despite the challenges, there is a solution: working together to create spaces of belonging for everyone by educating, equipping, and empowering.