Recently, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineer Pittsburgh District Youghiogheny Lake hosted its 44th annual Special Recreation Day at the lake’s outflow recreation area in Confluence, Pennsylvania.
Local special needs children and adults participated in hay rides, boating, games and fishing.
According to Brian Luprek, Southern Area resource manager, the rain showers throughout the day did not seem to dampen the spirits of those in attendance.
“The kids loved the day and even a rainy day outside is great for the kids,” Luprek said.
Additionally Luprek said, the support and dedication from the community, local businesses and the Confluence Lions Club has made Special Recreation Day a successful event for the past 44 years.
“This is one day that we and the community give back to the special needs children of the community. Many of the other events are to improve the project’s mission, but his one is focused on the special needs community,” Luprek said.
Special Recreation Day started in 1972 with an idea from Pete Colangelo, former chief of the, then called, Recreation Resource Management Branch. He wanted to have a day dedicated to the special needs community. Volunteers from the district, Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission, Game Commission, and the local community all came together to help establish the first Special Recreation Day.
Colangelo invited students from the Pittsburgh School for the Blind and Uniontown Easter Seal Society to spend the day at Youghiogheny Lake. Since its conception, attendance has grown from 50-60 participants to more than 200 children and adults attended this year’s event.
According to Colengelo, with the support of the community and lake and district staff the special recreation day will continue to grow.
“I believe it will continue for another 100 years,” Colangelo said.
"It is the people who care that make the greatest volunteers,” Maj. Cornelius Batts, district deputy commander said. “Volunteers have supported Youghiogheny Special Recreation Day for 44 years which enable our children with special needs to enjoy the fun, excitement and life that nature provides.”
Follow the district on Facebook Twitter Flickr Homepage