The best part about an organization that has been around for almost 100 years is that we can help shape the lives of so many young people with disabilities in our area.

One of these people is Nick Hyndman. Nick shares how The Ability Center has molded him into a motivated and determined young adult who strives for inclusive opportunities for individuals with disabilities.

Nick became connected to The Ability Center when he was three years old when his mother inquired about Ability Center programming. At the age of six, Nick began attending Camp Cricket, an inclusive summer camp for kids. Nick reflects on his early experience with the Center, “Since I grew up taking regular education classes, I did not have the opportunity to interact with many, if any other disabled peers, which as a result, made me question a lot why I was “di-erent” than the other children. I became a counselor for Camp Cricket because I enjoyed seeing other kids with disabilities feel the same happiness and the same sense of belonging that I felt when I was a camper.

The fact that these programs are inclusive in that manner is what makes The Ability Center stand apart from other organizations.”

Currently, Nick is the quarterback of the Toledo Crash, an inclusive indoor football team that welcomes athletes both with and without disabilities.

The goal of the organization is to play teams and groups of people that are typically non-disabled to spread messages of inclusiveness and positivity.

Nick is part administrator of the Facebook page and creates promotional fliers and videos to help spread awareness about the team. These opportunities enhance Nick’s marketing skills as he is currently enrolled as a marketing major with a minor in disability studies at the University of Toledo.

Nick says, “Besides having the goal of building an inclusive team, what I hope to leave behind during my time with the Toledo Crash is to change the societal perspective of what it means to be a disabled athlete.”

Nick was also a participant in The Ability Center’s youth summer program which was designed to prepare students with disabilities for college and beyond.

Nick shares, “As a young adult with disabilities, I am at the stage of my life where I have the same goals and desires to start my own career and live independently.”

Through this program, he was provided professional work experience at the American Red Cross, specializing in video production projects.

Nick was given the opportunity to film, edit and produce a film for their 100th anniversary celebration. Nick reveals, “I have always felt like if I had the right tools to succeed as a disabled person in society, then the sky is the limit.

Thanks to this summer program provided by The Ability Center, I now have those tools needed to be successful and pay it forward.”

Shortly after the summer program ended, Nick was awarded a scholarship from the University of Toledo disability studies program for his academic achievement and community outreach.

Nick closes, “The Ability Center has always shown me that they really do care about my future.

The sta- members that I have had the privilege to know over the years have set me up with opportunities that suit with the things I am passionate about.

Once I began to get involved in all the things I do with ACT, I began to go after my dreams outside of The Ability Center such as joining my high school wrestling team, joining a mixed martial arts club and taking up jiu-jitsu, running a full marathon to raise awareness for Cerebral Palsy, etc.

I thank The Ability Center for believing in me, giving me opportunities, and helping me become a proud, successful, motivated disabled individual.”