A life solely under the guidance of one’s self is an ability most have --- but many do not --- and the understanding of this truth of life is at the core of a Phoenix-based nonprofit mission helping all in Arizona.
“Ability360 offers and promotes programs designed to empower people with disabilities to take personal responsibility so that they may achieve or continue independent lifestyles within the community,” said Gus LaZear, Ability360 Sports & Fitness Center vice president and general manager.
“The mission of the Sports & Fitness Center for Persons with Disabilities is to provide exceptional adaptive sports, recreation, aquatic, and fitness programs that promote the independence, health, and overall well-being of people with disabilities and their family members. Our organization promotes independence, integration, consumer control and choice, and equal rights and responsibility.”
While its headquarters are based in downtown Phoenix at 5025 E. Washington Street, the 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, is seeking to help an afflicted population with little resources of support. Ability360 offers six separate locations throughout the Phoenix metropolitan area and reaches into both Pinal and Pima counties.
“We are very fortunate to be the largest Center for Independent Living in the state of Arizona,” Mr. LaZear outlines.
“We own and operate the Ability360 Center with the office space for nine other non-profits that serve people with disabilities, such as the Arizona Spinal Cord Injury Association, the Brain Injury Alliance of Arizona, etc. We have classrooms, conference center and our Sports & Fitness Center. This campus is the only one like it in the country.”
For more than 30 years, Ability360 has been there seeking to meet the tenets of its mission, Mr. LaZear contends.
“We are firm believers in the power of partnerships and within our mission and the independent living philosophy, we have served our community for over 35 years,” he said.
“Over the years we have established a funding for Scottsdale residents to have access to scholarships to the Ability360 Sports & Fitness Center. This has included families access to our fitness center and classes, sponsored swim lessons for youth with disabilities and recreational therapy sessions. This last year of funding helped support our pool deck renovation project, which has benefited all our members.”
--- Gus LaZear
A new focus of Ability360 is to bring in students from across the Valley including the Scottsdale Unified School District.
Making it happen is fueled by a $5,000 grant from the Scottsdale Charros, through The Charro Foundation.
Scottsdale Charros Executive Director Dennis Robbins points out the foundation of the Charro support is built upon youth, education and sports.
“Providing a grant to Ability 360 meets our mission goals to support youth and sports. Ability 360 is an excellent resource for those with disabilities who want to participate in sports, recreation and fitness,” he said. “This is a one-of-a-kind facility that is a great resource for Scottsdale residents.”
For nearly 60 years, the Scottsdale Charros have been in constant pursuit of improving the lives of Scottsdale residents and all children while preserving the community’s ties to its western heritage.
“Disability awareness is so key for youth,” Mr. LaZear said of the program. “We provide field trips at our facility and incorporate a curriculum including adaptive sports for youth of all abilities. We also go to schools and have a lesson plan on disability awareness.”
Mr. Robbins explains a one-of-a-lifetime experience can be found at Ability360.
“Ability 360 has a great field trip program to take school-aged children of all abilities to their facility to be educated in a variety of adaptive sports and fitness,” he said. “It allows children who need these services to see what is available for them. It also teaches those children who don’t need the services that anyone can participate in sports and fitness regardless of their ability.”
Mr. LaZear points out the No. 1 focus of Ability360 is to promote an independent life for all.
“I think it is important for your readers to know that we here to support the community and promote the Independent Living Philosophy,” he said.
Go to ability360.org.