For years now, Capable Kids has been one of the most impactful nonprofit organizations in the Rio Grande Valley. Their activities include advocating for parks to be built with adaptive equipment as well as bringing special events for children and young adults with special needs across the region.
The organization was created in 2015 by a group of speech, physical, and occupational therapists to help bridge the gap in inclusive services available in the RGV. The group has expanded its reach and capacity in less than 10 years.
Capable Kids divides its projects into three distinct categories. CK Sports provides recreational fun and adaptive sports; CK Social, such as dances and holiday events; and CK Impact, which includes lobbying local governments and parks & recreation departments to include accessible programming and facilities in their jurisdiction.
One of CK’s tentpole events, Winter Wonderland, is set to take place on Dec. 10. The event includes crafts, games, food, a visit from Santa, and even bigger surprises if the group can hit fundraising goals in time. The event is one of the largest of the year and, like many others, depends not just on fundraising but also on volunteers generous with their time.
Arlina Larson serves as the Community Development and marketing director for Capable Kids.
“I’m newer to the organization as a staff member, but I have been a volunteer for several years now. I’ve seen the progression and experienced these events year after year,” Larson said. “We want to make these events inclusive for all. We want them to enjoy these events with their peers. For example, in our country dance, we invite community members and high school kids from other organizations to come, volunteer, and be the kid’s buddies and dance partners. We don’t want this to be exclusive but an inclusive experience.”
It is hard to describe the joy Capable Kids participants experience on their special nights. Larson talked about the endless energy on any given dance night.
“At the country dance these kids dance nonstop, they dance for two hours straight I don’t know how they have the energy,” she said. “They are super engaged. A lot of the kids who come to these events have been coming for several years. They’ve created this bond with their friends that will last a lifetime. There is a sense of camaraderie.”
Larson also spoke on the connection Capable Kids families have built over the years.
“It goes on to the moms and dads of kids with special needs, they are friends. They get to be around people with similar lives. That’s one of the things that is so inspiring about being in this organization. I’ve seen how many of them have grown. They go and hang out with their friends; they are teenagers now.”
She stressed the impact of the community getting involved as supporters.
“Participation in our events is what makes our social programming program,” she said. “Our fundraisers are so important. It’s not just a gala. We have a 5K, we have a skeet shoot. We try to catch different interests. We appreciate all the support to make what we do possible.”
She made sure to thank the allies of Capable Kids through the years, the local businesses, organizations, and local leaders who have gone above and beyond to lift the group to prominence.
“Without the community and support from other organizations, we wouldn’t exist,” Larson said. “We started off as a small group. We are highly dependent on support from our local community. Whenever we partner with someone and see the impact they’ve made, I know they get the warm fuzzies. Seeing the kids having a good time, whether it’s the photos you can see online or if they are actually at the event. I know they get that feeling because it’s the feeling that we all get.”
To learn more about the org, become a member to volunteer, events, and more at ckrgv.org.