Over the course of this quarter, working with the Bulldogs has been such a joy and an amazing opportunity to connect with the participants. The engagement, skill level and dedication of the swimmers and dancers has provided me with a well-balanced understanding of what the events look like from their perspective. A perspective I would not have gathered without the reality-based environment of the lab. Through the participants active involvement, I have had so many experiences where I was able to apply topics discussed in lecture in order to enhance their experience and further their benefit from the exercises. A few examples of how I was able to encourage and impact the swimming athletes, was utilizing adaptations with equipment, with words, and with actions. I was able to utilize noodles
to help participants increase their kicking ability when the participants did not feel comfortable swimming with their head under water. When swimmers were unwilling to kick with noodles, I provided them with the option of utilizing kickboards, so they could hold onto it with their arms
outstretched while holding their head underwater if they chose to. I adapted the way that I described drills to the participants in order to increase and maintain heir motivation to swim. For one participant, who is more of a solo swimmer, I wanted to help her be more included in the
drills the other participants were performing. To do that, I politely asked her to undertake the swim strokes that the other swimmers were doing, when she objected I explained how they would help her be a stronger, and with that she jetted off to follow suit with the other swimmers.
An example of adapting my actions is swimming alongside participants in order to spurt them on, versus staying on one side of the pool and delegating drills for them. Some participants appreciate being given drills and praise after they had finished them well, while others enjoy
sharing the experience and being encouraged in the midst of the drill. All of these examples have brought such joy and stretched me in such great ways, I’m very thankful for the time I spent in this lab.
In the line dancing section of Bulldogs, I have had such great conversations and have been able to encourage participants to continue dancing even if the dance wasn't their favorite. This portion of the lab, gave me such clear insight into the participants outlook on their own disability and how they view people who might not understand their disability. On a few occasions,
dancers would try to just stand in the back and not participate. I would continue to motivate them to continue, when they would state the reason why they did not want to dance, I would assure them that whether they were hungry, thirsty, or tired they would get to rest in a few minutes.
These scenarios strengthened by connection and relationship with the participants and allowed me to understand where they were coming from, as well as show them that I had their best interests at heart.
I am so thankful for all the learning opportunities I had this quarter. For all the relationships that were formed and how they have impacted my life as well as the participants. I'm so excited to continue to foster the relationships and knowledge that I have gained and further build upon the solid foundation that was built.
This quarter has been such a rewarding experience. This was such a step out of my comfort zone, but I am proud of myself for being able to step into the swing of how the Bulldogs program runs and put myself out there in order to get to know everyone. This by far has been the most fun class I have taken so far at Cal Poly. Not only was I able to get to know many
of the athletes in the Bulldogs program, but I learned a lot about myself and I think it helped me be able to put myself out of my comfort zone without feeling uncomfortable about it.
During this quarter, I was able to get to know many of the athletes. I spent a lot of time with Audrey and I really enjoyed being able to learn about her family, what she likes to do outside of school and her favorite subjects in school. Veronica was always very interested in how we were all doing and I loved hearing about her life as well. She had quite a few stories about her daughter which were always fun to hear. Dan was the absolute best! Every week he was super supportive, energetic and very interested in what we were all learning at school and what our plans were for the upcoming weekend.
I am going to miss being around all the amazing people that I have had the privilege of spending my Thursday nights with the last 9 weeks. As a class I feel like we all grew together and all become comfortable with each other and were super supportive of every group on their week to lead. Thank you for a great experience and I hope to make it back to catch up with many of the participants in future quarters.
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The Bulldogs Program is an incredible experience and truly touches the hearts of both the participants as well as those who volunteer. I had the best time over the past quarter spending time and getting to know each and every person who attended over the weeks. Everyone is engaged and there is a feeling of joy that envelops you as you interact with each person. I highly recommend this program, I couldn’t imagine my experience being any other way!
Adele Looper Mar 8, 2018 Cal Poly Kinesiology Department
I have had my fair share of volunteering in settings including people with disabilities; however, the North County Adaptive Sports and Recreation Program creates a warming and welcoming environment that promotes fun ways to participate in a variety of physical activities including both dancing and sports. Bulldogs allows both people with disabilities and Cal Poly students to come together and break societal barriers and enjoy their time with one another, creating bonds and friendships that will last a lifetime. From beginning of my time with the Bulldog athletes until the final weeks, I noticed there was never a drop-off of energy from the athletes as well as the Cal Poly students to learn and grow from one another, positively giving an overall memorable experience. I will definitely go back and visit the North County Adaptive Sports and Recreation Program and all my Bulldogs even after my quarter is over, we are a family.
Chelsea Barry Mar 8, 2018 Cal Poly Kinesiology Department
My experience with the Bulldogs has been one of my favorite memories throughout my last three years at Cal Poly. I didn’t realize that working with the Bulldog participants could impact my life so much. Although Bulldogs is a way for people with disabilities to exercise, learn new skills, and have social interactions with others, there is so much more to this program. The encouraging and upbeat atmosphere makes this program so special. As a volunteer, I truly looked forward to my Thursday nights with the Bulldog participants. If I was having a hard day or not in the best mood, my day would completely turn around as soon as I saw all the participant’s smiles and got to have incredible conversations with them. I realized with line dancing that it wasn’t about them getting the moves down correctly, it was more about them having a fun and enjoyable night while interacting with the other participants and volunteers. This experience with the Bulldogs organization has been so incredible and I truly look forward to coming around in the future, even if I am not in my Adapted Physical Activity course anymore. I couldn’t thank the Bulldogs organization enough for letting me be a part of something that is so special.
Brooke Spradling Mar 8, 2018 Cal Poly Kinesiology Department
"The North County Adaptive Sports and Recreation Program (Bulldogs), was an amazing opportunity interacting on a consistent basis with individuals with disabilities. All of my fellow Cal Poly peers highly recommended I participate in this program as part of my Disabilities class and I am so glad I chose to do so. Ron and Ruth have a tremendous heart and passion to see the athletes grow and engage in physical activity. They are so committed to seeing the program thrive and succeed in every way possible. Meeting the athletes allowed me to get out of my comfort zone and even taught me the significance of social interaction and friendship. I learned that friendship and even just being involved in someone else’s life can be the biggest mediator between them and physical activity. Every single one of the athletes had something unique to offer and every week they came in ready to dance! I feel like every student was able to let loose and have fun. This environment is so welcoming and the enjoyment is contagious. I could not have asked for a better group of people to line dance with than the Bulldogs!"
Adriana Vasquez Mar 15, 2018 Cal Poly Kinesiology Department
"There is nothing but positive emotions when I think back on the past 10 weeks we spent volunteering with the Bulldogs program. Being able to interact with and befriend the athletes in the program week in and week out, was truly the highlight of my quarter. It was a part of my week that I always looked forward to; almost therapeutic in a way. The Bulldogs program provided the perfect environment for the athletes to flourish, as not only did it work to improve their physical health, but also provided a creative outlet for them to express themselves. The positive energy radiating from the dance floor is unmatched. By the end of the night, nobody, including the volunteers, leaves without a smile on their face. The program in general was very well run, as Ron and Ruth kept us well informed on upcoming events. In addition to keeping us updated, Ron and Ruth attended every session and were always extremely happy and helpful. It was quite obvious that they had a passion for the program and cared for every individual that participated. Overall, I would not trade this experience for anything. To be able to participate in a program as genuine as the Bulldogs program, is something not many people get to experience. I will definitely be returning to hang out and get moving with my new-found Bulldog family.
Brandon Kim Mar 15, 2018 Cal Poly Kinesiology Department
"Bulldogs facilitates growth and integration, no matter your level of ability, background, or any prior experience with physical activity or people with disabilities. My group piloted the line dancing unit and the personalities that came out were unparalleled. The benefit of dance was that there was really no separation of skill or ability – any move or dance could be adapted to anyone’s comfort or ability, the only requirement being a willingness to attend and participate. With this, we got to see the advantage of group activity and the emphasis on the social aspect of these opportunities, with the added benefit of physical activity. In this setting, we were really able to level the playing field and it didn’t take long at all before it felt like friends hanging out on a Thursday night. I have grown so much in myself over the last nine weeks that it seems so ridiculous to see someone other than anything but a unique and individual person, rather than a stigma or stereotype. It seemed like no matter what was going on at school or work or the stress of life in general, every single week we came out of Bulldogs on such a high. There were no expectations or pressures to impress anyone and I feel like most people were able to really be themselves. We developed such friendships that will be hard to adjust back from once we are no longer regularly attending, fortunately the Bulldogs have invited us to attend Thursday nights and other outings like bowling and Cal Poly Basketball games. It was also so special to see non-Kinesiology students opt for Bulldogs to fulfill other class requirements, and even more to return later in the quarter and with a larger group of people. My view of the world and those around me has expanded exponentially because of this program, I can’t imagine the full extent of what it means to the Bulldogs who have attended for years. I couldn’t think of a simpler or more satisfying way to spend my Thursday nights
Jillian Zuck Mar 8, 2018 Cal Poly Kinesiology Program
“My experience with the North County Adaptive Sports and Recreation program (the Bulldogs) has been nothing but positive and encouraging. I truly enjoy spending time with the athletes, not only working on their physical activity and sport skills, but also bonding with them on a friend and peer level. Ron Vasconcellos, as well as the board members, do an outstanding job of coordinating activities and raising funds for new sports for the Bulldogs to engage in. I was introduced to the Bulldogs in the fall of 2012 when taking a class at Cal Poly which discussed individuals with disabilities and how that affected their physical activity. Ever since my first meeting with the Bulldogs, I fell in love with not only the program and what it stands for, but the Bulldogs as well. I am overwhelmed with joy and excitement when I see the impact that working with them makes. Volunteering my time to the Bulldogs is and more rewarding than expected and has opened my eyes and heart to an area which I was not experience in. Being the Cal Poly correspondent with the program has allowed me to reach out to others who are interested in working with these wonderful individuals. I only hope that when my time comes to leave Cal Poly, there will be others who can experience the same passion and love I have for the Bulldogs. I will never say goodbye, the relationships I have made are too precious to let go of, I will always be a Bulldog and come back to support and spend time.
M. O’Meara February 13, 2014 Cal Poly Kinesiology Program
“Playing with the Bulldogs has been such a wonderful experience! It is so much more than a lab at Cal Poly, it is a Thursday night that I truly look forward to every week! The love and friendship that you experience there is contagious. The athletes are so much fun to be around and are always in a great mood. I have learned so much and have made many new friends through the bulldogs. They are a great organization where everyone feels welcomed and wanted. The staff really does a great job involving everyone and having it run smoothly. I am very lucky I had this opportunity to be part of the Bulldogs! “
K. Hester Mar 11, 2013 Cal Poly Kinesiology Program
“It has really been a fun experience! Here is a paragraph for the website: The Bulldogs provide a great way for people with disabilities to participate in physical activity in an interactive, fun, welcoming environment. As a volunteer, it has not only been a fun way to spend my Thursday nights, but also a great learning experience. Every Bulldog participant is there to have fun, socialize and participate in physical activity for the night. There are a variety of different sports offered through the Bulldogs program, and this quarter we did line dancing. I learned that it was less about getting the dance moves down correctly, and more about having fun while interacting with peers and participating in physical activity. I made great connections with the Bulldog participants, as we all became more comfortable and able to just let loose and dance the night away! I was able to take what I learned in class about Adapted Physical Activity and apply it to a real life situation. It was great as a learning experience and I know all of us volunteers truly looked forward to spending our Thursday nights dancing at North County Sports!”
T. Mason Mar 11, 2013 Cal Poly Kinesiology Program
”My name is Ben Damon, I am a 3rd year Kinesiology student at Cal Poly, and I am currently a volunteer with the Bulldogs through my Adaptive Physical Activity course. In the short time that I have been helping with the program, I have come to see what a truly profound impact it has. The Bulldogs provides the ideal environment for people with disabilities to exercise and learn new skills, while simultaneously encouraging social interaction amongst the athletes and volunteers. From a physiological viewpoint, the activities provide an intense aerobic exercise for the athletes, who otherwise have limited access to fitness facilities and programs. This is immensely beneficial, aiding in countless functional systems in the body, from the immune response to regulating blood circulation and metabolism. The motor skills they learn help increase coordination and balance, while strengthening neurological pathways and cognitive recognition. But beyond the physical benefits, I feel like the best part about the Bulldogs is the encouraging and upbeat atmosphere. Everyone, athletes and volunteers alike, is excited to be there, and throughout the sessions everyone is laughing and having a blast. The program provides the perfect environment for the athletes to experience things they would otherwise never have a chance to, all the while fostering strong interpersonal relationships. In just my second week, I was greeted by name by almost every one of the Bulldogs, and each was genuinely excited to have me there. Working with the Bulldogs has been one of the best experiences I’ve had at Cal Poly, and I can’t say enough about the impact Ron and Ruth have on the athletes.”
Sincerely, B. Damon Feb 5, 2013 Cal Poly Kinesiology Program
“The North County Adaptive Sports and Recreation Program allows people in the community with disabilities an opportunity to engage in physical activity while being in an inclusive environment filled with caring volunteer coaches. This program has a wide range of sports and recreational activities for the athletes including basketball, volleyball, line dancing, bocce ball, and more. Cal Poly students from Dr. Kevin Taylor’s Adaptive Physical Activity class help as volunteer coaches for the program. They take the knowledge they learn in class and apply it to teaching and coaching the program. I believe that the athletes benefit from the physical activity and coaching they receive from the Cal Poly students, and the Cal Poly students benefit from this “hands-on” learning opportunity. I have personally experienced this great benefit as a Cal Poly student from Dr. Taylor’s class myself. I started with the program last spring and I have chosen to continue helping out with the program because I truly believe in the programs purpose and sense of “community.”
L Barnett Jan 18, 2013 Cal Poly Kinesiology Program
"It has been my good fortune to grow up with the North County Adaptive Sports and Recreation Program. As a 7th grader at Old Mission Elementary School, I began working with these athletes and coaches before NCASARP was first conceived. Today, I am a junior at St. Mary’s College of California in Moraga. Whenever I come home, the Bulldogs are on the top of my “must do” list. (I just love it when I am greeted by the athletes with big smiles and heartwarming questions, like “How the heck are you? Longtime no see! Where have you been?”) When NCASARP first started as a grassroots program, they had to be creative in their offerings. There was little equipment, and no money. Through the dedication of the coaches and their commitment to make certain that funds were spent directly on their athletes, the Bulldogs grew as a year ’round sports program for differently-abled athletes. The program goes beyond sports; it offers social and informational events for Bulldogs and their support systems. As a volunteer, the enthusiasm of the athletes and the selfless nature of the coaches are what bring me back again and again. Nothing compares to the moment when a new Bulldog comes to their first practice, and as a volunteer, you are able to smooth the social transition for them. I have gained the friendship and trust of athletes who have been afraid of swimming, and yet came into the pool with me. The delight on their faces when they achieved success by facing a personal fear lights up the room. As much as my mission was to help these special athletes, what they have given to me is priceless. They have given me joy on a plain day, direction for my career, and a family of friends who always remember me. Because of this experience, I am studying to be a Special Education Teacher with the goal of becoming certified in Applied Behavioral Analysis. I have been inspired by these athletes and coaches . . . Once a Bulldog, Always a Bulldog! “ Marissa Hay Feb 12, 2012 Morro Bay ( St Mary’s College )