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Specialized Recreation

With your gift of $100, five people with disabilities can enjoy one of their favorite weekly activities.In 1954, Metro Parks founded Specialized Recreation to provide activities and sports opportunities for adults and youth with cognitive disabilities. Metro Parks Tacoma was one of the first local entities to work actively to address and change stigmas for people with disabilities.

For more than 60 years, Specialized Recreation has offered high-quality programs for Tacoma/Pierce County residents of all ages with disabilities. Available regularly, these essential enrichment, wellness, and community opportunities provide a safe place for participants to develop lifelong relationships, self-determination, and a sense of belonging.

The complexity of Washington State’s developmental disability support delivery system can make it difficult for many individuals with developmental disabilities and their caregivers to identify and obtain all needed services and supports. Services are often fragmented across agencies, and navigation is complicated and frustrating. Beyond the difficulties of securing basic need and health support, quality of life is a challenge. In this problematic landscape, Specialized Recreation strives to provide a haven: a safe, fun, welcoming place of opportunity and community for those with developmental disabilities.

The program serves approximately 500 individuals each year. Caregivers register participants, who, in most cases, pay a modest fee to participate. (Because many Specialized Recreation participants do not have discretionary income and cannot afford registration fees, Metro Parks works with the Greater Metro Parks Foundation to provide scholarship funds to offset registration costs, helping more individuals to participate regardless of income.) Due to the necessarily high staff-to-participant ratios, demand regularly exceeds availability, and nearly half of all programs have waiting lists.