M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust

On December 3, the world will recognize the International Day of Individuals with Disabilities. The annual observance of this day was proclaimed in 1992 by the United Nations with the aim to promote an understanding of disability issues and to advance a society where those with disabilities are recognized, included, and celebrated.

A child wearing a blue shirt and helmet rides a horse while a woman wearing a green shirt assists.
Rising Stars Therapeutic Riding Center

This year, the United Nations named the focus for this day as transformative solutions and innovative inclusion for those with disabilities – themes that Murdock Trust grantees have been working on the forefront of for years. Across our region, organizations are offering creative support and opportunities to those with disabilities, from art therapy to recreational activities to inclusive learning. Here are some such organizations the Trust has recently had the opportunity to support:

In Twin Falls, ID, Rising Stars Therapeutic Riding Center brings speech, physical, and occupational therapy outside the clinic and onto horseback. This type of therapy, called hippotherapy, has a range of therapeutic benefits for those with disabilities. Rising Stars also offers therapeutic riding, conducted individually or in small group settings, and equine facilitated learning, an unmounted program for those who may not be able to ride. With a mission to empower participants to “reach beyond the reins of limitation,” Rising Stars is offering important recreational and therapeutic options to its Twin Falls community.

Based in Bozeman, MT, but with a global reach, Reach Out and Care Wheels (ROC Wheels) provides wheelchairs for children with disabilities in under-resourced areas. Through community partnerships with schools and prisons, ROC Wheels manufactures wheelchairs and gait trainers for those identified as most in need by in-country partners. Local partners then provide long-term support as the child grows. Since 1999, ROC Wheels has delivered over 10,000 wheelchairs to more than 25 countries.

A child wearing a red shirt and blue pants smiles at the camera while riding in a wheelchair.
Reach Out and Care Wheels

Meanwhile, Hope Community Resources is providing innovative services and support to Alaskans of all ages and abilities. For example, their Intentional Neighborhoods and community living programs help those experiencing disabilities participate in the community of their choice. Their Kodiak Recreation Center offers year-round activities for the entire community, and an Outdoor Pursuits program helps make adventures in the great Alaskan outdoors more accessible.

In Portland, OR, the Tucker Maxon School teaches deaf, hard of hearing, and typical hearing children to listen, learn, talk, and achieve excellence together. In this unique co-enrollment model, those who have hearing challenges and those who don’t learn alongside one another. Together, both groups develop empathy, communication skills, and community.

These four organizations are just a small sample of those caring for people with disabilities in our region. We could name countless others, including those who are making education more inclusive or those serving specific groups such as those with Down syndrome. Each of these organizations represents the spirit of innovation that this year’s International Day of Individuals with Disabilities seeks to cultivate. We are proud to support these nonprofits who are making change in their communities through supporting those of all abilities.

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