One hundred teams. Ten challenges. One winner. Hosted by the Bridges Training Foundation, the first annual Great Inclusion Race & Party In The Park will be held in Midlothian, Texas, on June 26, 2021.
Inspired by contests like “The Amazing Race,” the Great Inclusion Race will see 100 teams of four or more people drive around the city of Midlothian and attempt to find and complete 10 challenges. Once a team finds and completes a challenge, it will receive a clue as to the hidden location of the next challenge.
What makes the Great Inclusion Race different from all the other contests, however, is that each of the 10 challenges were specially designed to demonstrate the types of struggles people with different disabilities might face during their day-to-day lives.
“Until you try to make a sandwich without using your hands, you really don’t understand,” MeLissa Boler, CEO of the Bridges Training Foundation, said.
The Bridges Training Foundation is a nonprofit organization that focuses on providing lifelong support to people with disabilities once they leave high school, with one of the organization’s four main divisions focusing on workforce preparation.
The US Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that in 2020, only 17.3 percent of all people with a disability were employed, compared to 61.8 percent of all people without a disability.
The Bridges Training Foundation is committed to changing that.
Through primarily volunteer work, the organization’s workforce division provides training to help its clients learn about and prepare for the workforce and the world ahead. The division also partners with many different businesses in the community in an effort to help place Bridges clients in a variety of jobs.
Unfortunately, the pandemic hit the organization hard, and over the last year, the workforce division has been the only division in operation. The advocacy division, the social division, and the housing division were all forced to shut down due to a lack of funds.
The advocacy division focuses on promoting awareness and community exposure much like the Great Inclusion Race is meant to do, and operating without it has been difficult.
“As humans, we think we know, but we don’t,” Boler said. “What we think we know is attached to the only exposure we have. People hear the word disability, and what they should be hearing is diversity.”
At the same time as the Great Inclusion Race is taking place, more than 55 vendors and multiple food trucks will be stationed at the Midlothian Community Park for the Party In The Park. All proceeds from the event will go to the Bridges Training Foundation to help fund the operations of the organization’s four divisions.
Later this fall, on October 9, the Bridges Training Foundation will host the 5th annual Championship BBQ Cook Off at the Ellis County Expo Center in Waxahachie, Texas. When this event was last held in the fall of 2019, it was the single largest BBQ competition in the state of Texas. Featuring a silent auction, live music, raffle prizes, great food, and a specially designed kids zone, the BBQ Cook Off is once again set to be a huge success.
For more information about the organization, the events, or how to register as a team member, a vendor, or a judge, visit the Bridges Training Foundation website at www.bridgestf.org.
– Austin Hedgcoth is a student at the University of North Texas and a writer for Ellis DownHome. He enjoys exercising, drawing, and spending quality time with family and friends. Austin lives by a few simple words; be kind and love deeply.