People with Disabilities Discover New Strengths with Newton's Waypoint Adventure

For Adam Combs and Dan Minnich, continuing their nonprofit work with adventurous students with disabilities was first priority after bonding at the nonprofit organization Outdoor Explorations. The duo opened their Newton, MA nonprofit Waypoint Adventure in 2010 to fulfill the void after Outdoor Explorations closed. Since then, they've been continuing their work with students with disabilities, introducing them to outdoor challenges to overcome and, ultimately, achieve personal growth. The nonprofit organization is working towards expansion, after experiencing success.

"We launched Waypoint as a way to continue and expand what we loved about working [at Outdoor Explorations] and use adventure not just for a fun experience, but as a powerful tool for learning," Minnich, who is co-founder and co-director of Waypoint Adventure, says. "For many people who participate in Waypoint's programs, this is the first time they have gone rock climbing, kayaking or snowshoeing."

Each program is designed to adapt to people with all types of disabilities, ensuring that anyone who wants to participate will be able to. The intention is for participants to leave with "their heads high and a new realization of their strengths and abilities," so Waypoint Adventure wants to accommodate and enhance strengths so weaknesses can be overcome.

"The adventures also provide a safe place for exploring risk and even experiencing failure," Minnich says. "So often we hear from young adults with disabilities that well meaning caregivers have intentionally directed them into environments where success was basically certain and unintentionally prevented them from the opportunity of learning from true challenges."

The organization works with many volunteers. Volunteers help conduct all of the activities, even gaining belay training during volunteer trainings to be able to participate in rock climbing activities. On an annual basis, Waypoint Adventure plays host to an evening dedicated to thanking volunteers for being part of the program, helping the organization grow and greatly improving the lives of all the participants.

"Through kayaking, rock climbing, hiking, snow shoeing, ropes course and teambuilding programs, Waypoint Adventure transforms lives by instilling hope, confidence and a sense of belonging in participants," Minnich says. "Waypoint's board of directors have outlined an ambitious five-year strategic plan with the goal of doubling program capacity by 2020. We will do this by hiring additional program staff, increasing our adaptive equipment and increasing the number of scholarships we are able to provide."

If you're interested in volunteering with Waypoint Adventure, download their application online. To donate in support of Waypoint Adventure, visit their website and find out how your donation makes a difference in the organization.

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