University of Montevallo students normally found in competitive fishing boats or field blinds took time out of their week to introduce special needs children to outdoor activities during two events.
The first event, Gone Fishin’, Not Just Wishin’, was held between May 10 and May 12 at Oak Mountain State Park. Each year, Alabama Power and the Alabama department of Conservation provide an opportunity for special needs children to fish despite developmental limitations.
This year, members of UM’s bass fishing team and the President’s Outdoor Scholars Program participated and helped students from Jefferson and Shelby County school systems bait their hooks, throw their lines and reel in their catches.
According to the Alabama Newscenter, approximately 1,000 special needs students threw in bait to catch around 2,000 stockpiled fish.
In addition to fishing, students participated in art projects and activities while learning about water safety.
The Outdoor Scholars also volunteered during an event hosted by Kidz Outdoors at Soggy Bottom Lodge in Linden, Alabama on May 13. Kidz Outdoors allows children with disabilities to engage in outdoor activities, such as hunting and fishing.
The event raised $54,000 which Kidz Outdoors will use to take terminally ill children on a hunting trip of a lifetime.
“Carol and Rick Clarke, the founders of Kidz Outdoors, do such incredible work with special needs children, and it’s a privilege to help in some small way. They contribute so much of their time and effort to helping the children succeed, even inventing tools and equipment to meet each child’s specific need,” said William Crawford, director of the President’s Outdoor Scholars Program.