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Interview: Angela Mann, Mom of 4 and Founder of HOPE Grove

Wednesday, October 26, 2022
 Angela Mann is an occupational therapist, founder of HOPE Grove and a mom of 4 active kids! Her oldest has Down syndrome and she is passionate about inclusive activities for all, which is why she got involved with Valley Friendship Club last year. She joins us to share more about how her family celebrates fall and what she has found benefits all kids.

Can you share more about Valley Friendship Club (VFC) and why you got your family involved?

We got involved last year with VFC. It’s a place to connect with people and the community in an environment that fosters friendships and celebrates individual abilities and talents. They host social activities and events for children, teens and young adults with disabilities. There are a number of different types of activities, but we tried out a martial arts club and really enjoyed Trunk-or-Treat last year. We got involved because it is nice to have a place where whole family is welcome. We enjoy celebrating the holidays and so having a place to do that and feel included and accepted is great.

I appreciate things that are inclusive for all people.


How does your family like to celebrate fall?

We like being outside and finding ways to be outside in the fall is especially great. Going to a pumpkin patch or an apple orchard; we enjoy celebrating the seasonal things. Really, we like to do the same things as everyone else. We just might not go to the loud dance parties or stay quite as long.


Are there things you wish more people in the community knew or understood about individuals with disabilities?

It’s important to be aware that everyone has differences. Be accepting of those differences.

For Halloween, I think that people in the community generally understand there are costume sensory issues or noise sensitivities. If a child seems too old to be going door-to-door or they don’t say ‘trick or treat, don’t make a big deal about it. Don’t judge. Let kids be kids.


Can you share more about your passion for getting kids outside?

Outdoor time, free-play and not getting overscheduled is really important to me. It’s also at the heart of HOPE Grove. I organize nature-based play groups that are inclusive. Here, kids with disabilities have a place for summer camp and activities, the same as everyone else.

The outdoors can continue to be a great place to play and explore, even as the weather cools, but it will last longer and be more enjoyable if everyone is dressed for it. When you can’t get outdoors, keep the creativity flowing with indoor obstacle courses. Let them create it. Simple household items and furniture can go a long way. So let the couch cushions come off and give them the movement that they crave!


What have you found benefits all kids?

Having enough unstructured play time. Being outside is helpful for creativity, creating with the natural environment. Kids need time to learn how to be comfortable being themselves and playing in an unstructured way, not relying on an electronic device.