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Nava R. Silton, Ph.D

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A collection of stories, experiences and uplifting tales regarding the world of disabilities and the individuals who have them.

Mary Sue Tanis's Youth Challenge pairs youngsters with and without physical disabilities

Nava Silton

 Photo courtesy of

Photo courtesy of

A woman in Cleveland has created a program to allow kids with physical disabilities to enjoy a wide variety of recreational activities. The woman’s name is Mary Sue Tanis and she created Youth Challenge 40 years ago. Youth Challenge is a free, year-round sports and recreational activities program for children ages 4 to 18 with physical disabilities. The activities that Youth Challenge offers include skiing, sailing, arts and crafts, yoga, bocce ball, weightlifting, track, photography, bowling, and basketball among many others. In addition to providing fun activities for these kids, the program pushes them to go outside of their comfort zone as well as helps them build self-confidence. The program owns lots of special equipment so that every sport is accessible. Additionally, the program relies on the help of teen volunteers. The volunteers also gain a lot from the experience since they recognize how needed they are. In fact, there have even been five marriages among the volunteers! It is great to see a program like this be so successful and be around for so long. Mary Sue Tanis is a real inspiration. Read an interview that was conducted of her here.