Many life-long outdoorsmen and outdoorswomen can point to the first time they volunteered with a non-profit or other organization assisting those with disabilities to enjoy the outdoors lifestyle.
Mine was around age six, helping with a fishing day for those with disabilities in our small town. I was on snack duty for anyone who wanted a pack of crackers and juice box. The event seemed to go by in a whirl of excited laughter, with life-long relationships established. Even though it was only one day, I believe it had a lasting impact on participants and volunteers.
Service is so ingrained with sportsmanship that it’s no surprise there are more organizations and non-profits helping disabled outdoorspeople enjoy life to their fullest than you can count on two hands. The outdoors community maintains a unique commitment to inclusivity, and Louisiana is no exception.
A few recognizable groups in Louisiana that are established or just spreading their roots are C.A.S.T. for Kids, Disabled Outdoorsmen USA, Trinity Outdoors Disabled Adventures LA, and Dream Hunt Foundation.
- C.A.S.T. for Kids Foundation is a non-profit organization that brings together disabled children, ages 6 to 18, and their families to enjoy a day of quality outdoors experience through fishing. This usually includes 2 to 3 hours of fishing, lunch and an awards ceremony afterwards, made possible by local and national sponsors. Louisiana had two C.A.S.T. for Kids events: on the Louisiana Delta out of Lafitte, and at Lake D’Arbonne in Farmerville.
- Disabled Outdoorsmen USA, or DOUSA, is an organization that creates inclusive hunting opportunities for people with disabilities. It started in 2017. The main goal is to provide an unforgettable experience that is not typically possible, especially for mobility impaired individuals. While DOUSA wasn’t created in Louisiana, it is establishing a chapter in Sportsman’s Paradise.
- Trinity Outdoors Disabled Adventures LA is a non-profit ministry founded in 2008 by Jason Bland. The 501(c3) nonprofit was formed as an outreach program from the Acadiana Amputee Support Group. It has been able to help thousands of individuals through hunting, fishing, camping and faith-based summer camps. They cater to no specific age group. T.O.D.A.’s mission is to provide positive influence and one-on-one interactions with every person they help.
- The Dream Hunt Foundation is a Louisiana-based non-profit that helps disabled, disadvantaged or terminally ill children go a hunt-of-a-lifetime trip that they would not be able to experience otherwise. Founded in 2013, the mission is to provide a great experience during a tough time in their life and provide life lessons that go beyond the hunt.
Outdoor activities, including fishing and hunting, are recognized as health-promoting activities for the mobility impaired and those with disabilities. Several reviews from experts describe the benefits of being outdoors as a health-promoting activity. Mental-health benefits, social-health benefits and physical-health benefits are indisputably gained.
There are multiple non-profits and organizations in Louisiana that provide opportunities for disabled citizens to participate in outdoors activities.