Perfectly Planned Trips for the Disabled
A growing number of organizations exist today to help people with disabilities and terminal illnesses realize their dreams. We love hearing stories of kids and adults whose dreams come true, like becoming a police officer for a day or enjoying a trip to Disney World in Florida. Regardless of how these precious moments come about, the bottom line is always the same—a life is changed for the better.
Given this, it’s always cool to hear the background and origins of one of these great organizations. The story of how dream-making charities come about can sometimes be just as inspiring as what the organizations do. Such is the case with Trips Inc. Special Adventures, a company that helps plan vacations for teens and adults with disabilities.
Jim Peterson, the founder of the company, was a foster parent for a young man named Trent who had cerebral palsy. Back in 1982, there were very few travel opportunities available for people with disabilities. It was extremely difficult to plan a trip for a person with cerebral palsy who required accommodations for people with special needs.
In 1991, Peterson earned his masters degree in special education and spent time working in programs for people with disabilities. He then took this education and experience and turned it towards the founding of his company.
It’s important to note that Trips Inc. does not operate like the Make-a-Wish Foundation. Rather, it’s a specialized travel agency that helps young adults and adults with physical and intellectual disabilities plan their own trips. Rather than acting as a charity, Trips Inc. stands out as an organization that helps foster the independence of people with disabilities by connecting them with resources that allow them to book trips that will cater to their needs. When these would-be travelers decide where they’d like to go, they know how much they need to save, and it motivates them.
Executive director Leslie Peterson says, “Many of our travelers have jobs already. When they have this possibility of a vacation, now they have a reason to save up. They learn to redirect their money toward the trip’s cost.”
Travelers pay for their own solo trips and Trips Inc. plans the vacation package from transportation all the way down to the daily itinerary. Trained counselors, care providers, teachers, and similar professionals will accompany the vacationer to help with medication, money-handling, and other needs.
Currently, Trips Inc. books about 30 trips every year on cruise ships and to locations like Las Vegas, Disney World, and Mexico. Many of their clients experience their first trips on their own through Trips Inc. and, while this requires some adjustment, it’s a huge step towards regaining independence. One of the most popular trips is the dude ranch vacation.
“I think many times people with disabilities are used to having someone be in control of them,” Peterson says. “At the ranch, when they get on a horse, suddenly they’re the ones in control. It’s wonderful to watch them feel the independence.”
Watch these travelers enjoy a vacation in Memphis, Home of the Blues and the Birthplace of Rock ‘n’ Roll! Other places available for travel through Trips, Inc. include San Diego, New York, City, Hawaii, Mexico, Dollywood in Tennessee, a Disney Alaska Cruise, Las Vegas, Yellowstone National Park, San Francisco, and Washington, DC. Where would YOU go on your vacation?