(COLORADO SPRINGS) — The Adaptive Recreation for Childhood Health (ARCH) program in partnership with Children’s Hospital Colorado celebrated its 55th anniversary at the United States Olympic and Paralympic Museum on Saturday, April 22.
“It’s 55 years of Children’s Hospital helping children with disabilities become active,” said Paralympian and ARCH program grad, Hannah Pennington.
The ARCH program began in 1967 initially helping individuals with amputations get involved in downhill skiing. At the time, it was one of the first programs of its kind in the United States.
“Recognizing our 55th anniversary was so important today, because we have so many individuals, so much history, and people to celebrate,” said Andrea Colucci, the ARCH program operations manager.
55 years later, the ARCH program is still thriving and has expanded to several sports including snowboarding, rock climbing, fencing, horse riding and more.
“What this program does is show them the things that they’re able to do… How to look outside the box… and that they’re not stuck in this label of disability,” said Pennington.
Over one hundred adults and kids showed up to the event, which also doubled as an end-of-the-ski season celebration for everyone involved. The athletes were awarded medals, and the volunteers were recognized for their work throughout the season.
The community aspect of the ARCH program is one of the reasons why it is so special.
“I got to meet other kids with disabilities, so I was no longer isolated. So it gave me a sense of community… and helps the families not be alone as well, it helps the families know that there are resources,” said Colucci.