Parks Dept.’s PE Penguins program works with adults with developmental disabilities
Paulding County Parks and Recreation Department in partnership with Paulding Enterprises, Inc. created a sports program that works with adults with developmental disabilities.
According to Parks and Rec Program Coordinator Zac Tubbs, “It’s a community partnership that I formed in 2021. We created a sports program called the PE Penguins.”
Tubbs explained in an email that the main goal of the PE Penguins program was to offer a diversified sports program that provided adults with developmental disabilities an opportunity to engage in new sports and activities in a supportive environment.
“This is the largest adaptive sports program in our department,” Tubbs said. “Our first sports outing was in the spring of 2021. The group eventually decided on the name PE Penguins with the motto, “We Fly Together.”
Tubbs said that the program had served adults of varying ages between 21 and 65. They’ve met 12 times since 2021 and have average 17 participants in each meeting. They’ve participated in 13 different sports and recreation games during this time, and they meet for around 90 minutes per visit.
Tubbs also explained some of the backgrounds of the program. After some downtime due to the pandemic, Tubbs says he noticed that the group from Paulding Enterprises, Inc. wasn’t able to really utilize the courts in the gym because they were filled with people playing basketball.
“I felt like the group wasn’t getting much out of their visit at the park and I wanted to see if I could create an opportunity that provided more value and physical activity time for the group when they visited,” Tubbs said.
Tubbs approached Quality Assurance Program Manager Marsha Johnson to see if she’d be interested in forming a partnership to offer a sports program that specifically served their group.
“It’s building community connection and that’s one of the things that we strive for -- so it gives them an opportunity to fulfill a fun activity and to get to know other people in the community,” said Johnson, who was contacted by phone.
“It’s a joy to be able to go once a month and to allow them to experience new opportunities that they normally wouldn’t get through Paulding Enterprises and the work of Zac and his group,” Johnson said. Therapeutic Program Coordinator, Britt Grillo, partnered with the program and helped to create a program proposal that was approved. “Oftentimes, adaptive programs serve the younger population or all age groups at once,” said Grillo. “The PE Penguins program allows us to break that barrier and provide recreational activities for the adaptive adult community. As a department, our goal is to provide recreation experiences for all, and the Penguins program allows us to do that and the joy it brings is exceptional.”
“This program was constructed by people who sought to create an opportunity that served adults with disabilities selflessly,” said Tubbs. “We were given the latitude to develop the program and our like-minded vision, goals, and commitment led to it being successful. We’ve enjoyed fostering meaningful relationships with the adults and staff at Paulding Enterprises.”Zac Tubbs was a high school football All-American and All-SEC team captain at the University of Arkansas. While at Arkansas, he was a two-year member of the Athletic Prevention Programming and Leadership Education (A.P.P.L.E.) Tubbs was a free agent with the Buffalo Bills and played for two years with the eleven-time National Champion Sioux Falls Storm indoor football team. He’s a Certified Parks and Recreation Professional through the NRPA and has been with PCPRD since November 2020.