The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

March 30, 2013

Providing a future

4RKids offers services, and life after school, for those with disabilities

By Bridget Nash Staff Writer
Enid News and Eagle

ENID, Okla. — People with disabilities often see limited opportunity, but 4RKids is an organization designed to provide opportunities for those with disabilities.

“We’re a non-profit foundation that provides vocational, social and recreational opportunities for individuals with disabilities,” said Tricia Mitchell, 4RKids program director.

4RKids fulfills its mission through its miniature golf course, two gift shops and an employment center.

Putt Putt employees individuals with disabilities; the gift shops, 2nd Story and 2nd Story Downtown bring in funds for the programs; and the employment center allows disable individuals to work, making items for the shops.

“(For the gift shops) they make jewelry, dog biscuits and greeting cards,” said Mitchell.

The gift shops also sell non-handmade items including handbags, scarves, home decor and used books.

“It’s a little bit of everything,” said Mitchell.

Employment opportunities offered through 4RKids are important because they allow disabled individuals to have something to do, to have self-worth and to earn a paycheck, Mitchell said.

“Our center gives them a chance to partake in a skill,” she said.

In addition to offering employment opportunities, 4RKids also offers education to the community. Each year, when public school teachers convene for back-to-school orientation, 4RKids gives a presentation to special education teachers. Mitchell said it is important for special education students and their families to realize the opportunities provided by the school system will not be available once the student graduates.

“Once they graduate there is nothing in the community for them unless they sign up for state services, and there is a 10-year waiting list,” said Mitchell. “We encourage teachers to inform the parents. We will help fill out the applications because it is kind of a lengthy process.”

4RKids also will make presentations to civic groups or any group interested in the mission of 4RKids.

Each year, 4RKids hosts its annual Walk 4RKids, a large event that offers activities for everyone in the community and raises money for the foundation.

4RKids also works with Miracle League, a baseball league for individuals with disabilities, each year in May and June. Every individual gets to play, even if he or she need assistance.

“We’ll give them a buddy,” said Mitchell. “Everyone gets a chance to play, and they just have so much fun.”

4RKids began in 2003 and currently employs 19. The foundation also partners with Project Search, a collaboration of local organizations that provide training and job coaching for qualifying individuals with disabilities.

“When they are done (with the training) we will help them find a job in the community,” said Mitchell.

Putt Putt and 2nd Story are at 710 Overland Trail and 2nd Story Downtown is at 114 S. Independence in the Non-Profit Center in Enid.