Tradewinds Students Begin Training for The Boilermaker!

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Upstate Cerebral Palsy’s Susan Constantino Education Center, located in Chadwicks, which is home to our Tradewinds Vocational Program is so excited to embark on a new endeavor, centered around one of the Utica area’s most special weekends—the Boilermaker!

My name is Ben Phelps, and I am a Behavior Specialist Assistant at  our Tradewinds Vocational School. Here at Chadwicks, we strive to create as many enriching opportunities as we can for our students to be engaged with their community. Our students travel to many different sites for these outings, including libraries, supermarkets and some of Utica’s top-notch restaurants. These students are excited to actively participate in these environments and many are preparing to enter employment upon graduation. That being said, we are always looking for new opportunities for our students.

I have lived in Central New York my whole life and Boilermaker weekend has always been a part of me. Since I was a little kid, I can recall cheering for my dad, aunts, uncles, cousins, friends, and all the other thousands of individuals who ran by with sweat pouring down their faces, but smiling all the while. I have been running the Boilermaker for the past 10 years, and I have no intention of stopping anytime soon. I have a feeling that this upcoming Boilermaker weekend will end up being my all-time favorite.

This year, a team of our dedicated staff will be assisting 6 of our students in training for the 5-kilometer race this summer. This team of students is comprised of people of all ages who have made huge strides here at The Chadwicks Tradewinds Education Center. They are motivated, intelligent and best of all, so excited to be a part of this event that is incredibly important to our area! We will be training right here at school, starting with very short distances and working our way up to 3.1 miles by the time the summer rolls around. We have worked on race preparation, pacing, endurance, and many other skills that are essential for distance running. There is no doubt that this will be a challenging process, as none of these students have ever participated in a race to this degree. The goal, however, is for our community to watch all 6 of these students cross the Boilermaker finish line on Sunday, July 14th.

We have already received an outpouring of support from many members of the community, including Boilermaker President Mark Donovan. The staff here at Upstate Cerebral Palsy are beyond thankful for people like Mark, who are eager to create environments of inclusion and opportunity for people of all abilities. We are so happy to have the support of the Boilermaker and we are confident that this relationship will be long-lasting. Thanks, Mark!

Last week, the team was invited to The Sneaker Store on Commercial Drive in New Hartford to be fitted for brand new running sneakers. Our students were so thrilled to go and one told me that it was by far the best day of the whole school year. As soon as we walked into the store, owner, Josh Belisle and staff member, Karen McDaniel made us feel welcome and brought our students over to an open area with couches and benches for shoe fittings. The team loved trying on different brands of shoes and jogging around the store to decide for themselves what shoe was the best fit for them. Aside from the fitting, the students spent their time browsing the store’s merchandise, talking to The Sneaker Store staff, comparing their new kicks together, and hanging out with the resident parrot at the store—yes, a real parrot. The experience was unforgettable and was absolutely the perfect way to kick off this whole project. The Sneaker Store staff were kind, patient, and welcoming towards us. They created a space where our students felt valued and engaged, and I believe that this was the first time they began to realize they are a part of something truly special.

Interested in supporting our cause and helping to provide funding for more physical fitness initiatives? You can join our Fundraising Team! If you’re running the Boilermaker and would like to fundraise on our behalf, you can create a page to share with your family and friends. Or, you can make a donation to our fundraising campaign. Both can easily be done right here:

Our project is officially underway, and our training will be starting very soon! You can follow our progress the whole way through, right here on this site. If you would like to learn more about our team and our project, don’t hesitate to reach out to me.

Click here to view photos from our Sneaker Store Trip! 

Ben Phelps

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