The annual Bucky Awards are a way for the university to celebrate individuals and organizations on campus for the impact they have had on their peers and our community.
The Inclusivity award is presented to an organization that fosters learning opportunities, contributes to the scholastic and leadership growth for its members, and focuses on fostering interactions between members.
Hoofers Adapt is an incredible student organization developed last year by two fantastic Occupational Therapy Master’s students, Kathryn Bach and Megan Gray. The organization’s mission is to “promote accessibility and inclusion in outdoor pursuits at UW-Madison and in the greater Madison community”. This year Hoofers Adapt was nominated by the PEOPLE Program and awarded the Bucky Award for Inclusivity!
The organization connects Hoofers clubs, students, and community members to accessible opportunities on campus or in the greater Madison area. They also serve as a resource for Hoofers clubs interested in hosting an adapted activity. However, their purpose extends even further to include promoting an inclusive atmosphere in outdoor recreation in which accessibility is a priority.
When asked what the motivation for starting the Hoofers Adapt organization was, Kathryn and Megan replied “For as long as both of us can remember, we have loved being outside. As we have gotten older and more connected to the world of occupational therapy, we have also become passionate about finding ways to ensure that all people have equitable access to the outdoors – not only to share our own love of nature with others but also because of nature’s many documented benefits for both physical and mental health. In the spirit of the Wisconsin Idea, we wanted to apply the concepts we were learning in the UW-Madison OT program to increase access to outdoor recreation on campus. By working within the existing structure alongside current leaders we were able to work towards creating an accessible way for more students and community members to enjoy the outdoors.” Read more about the organization’s development and mission in the Daily Cardinal here.
Kathryn and Megan have provided a fresh OT perspective to Hoofers. They have worked with all six Hoofers clubs to discuss ways to make events more inclusive for people of all ability levels and how to change club member perceptions and attitudes about the inclusion of a broader range of individuals in these clubs. Over the last year, the organization has gone from being an idea at a Hoofers meeting to being its own well-established community with a core group of members who have enjoyed adapted climbing, skiing, and kayaking activities. They were recently able to connect an individual with low vision to a rock climbing trip run by the Hoofers mountaineering club – brainstorming along with the individual and the club president what practical steps to take to ensure both safety and enjoyment. They have also been able to meet with the Hoofers scuba club about the possibility of holding an adapted introduction to scuba diving experience. Both of these experiences show great promise for what may be possible in the future within Hoofers.
In the future, they hope to provide a sustainable means for Hoofers Adapt to continue while reaching a larger group of undergraduate students by collaborating with the Morgridge Center and undergraduate professors. “We have a lot to be excited about at Hoofers Adapt. We both agree that connecting interested students or community members with opportunities for accessible outdoor recreation made available through Hoofers Adapt is our favorite part of our involvement. We are also very excited when individuals or organizations reach out to us about wanting to hold an adapted event and are looking for tips on how to do this. Overall, we love that people are thinking in new ways and getting excited about what is possible. Our efforts have been well received within and outside of the Hoofers clubs, and we can feel a palpable change in how activities are planned and discussed. By having these conversations, we feel that a can-do attitude is spreading both at the grassroots level and among the leaders of the clubs which makes us very excited about the potential future directions this group could take…Our hope is that Hoofers Adapt will play a role in attracting students to UW-Madison as they are choosing a university that prioritizes inclusion and acceptance for all. ”
Hoofers Adapt has made a huge impact within its first year and is clearly deserving of this award! Kathryn and Megan have both recently graduated from the Occupational Therapy Masters program and while they will be sorely missed, they have proven to be innovators and leaders, leaving the campus better than they found it. We are incredibly proud of our students and excited to see the impact that the growth of this organization will have on our campus community.
Congratulations Hoofers Adapt!