Arcadian Walk - A Special Place for Special Needs Children
Organized by: Jude Billingsly
EVENT DATE Jun 15, 2014
This is a project inspired by Salem and the Twins (Jade and Jules) for all special needs children.
Arcadia means "Utopia", or Paradise, and this property is meant to be a paradise for special needs children and their families.
To read about the property and how we came to find it, please check the Facebook page.
We are the Billingsly family (3 generations), and we help whoever we can, when we can, how we can - be it bipeds or quadrupeds -
and we were blessed with three special needs children- Salem, who has Tardive Dyskinesia, and Jade and Jules (The Twins) who have severe Autism.
For full biographies on the family, please visit our Facebook or the Website (under construction, but it will be up soon!)
This campaign is important to us because, having special needs children of our own, we see the difficulties that come from that.
Restaurants that don't want to deal with the tantrums and mess, the funny looks from passers-by at fairs, dance teachers that don't want anyone who's less than perfect to gain their tutelage, art teachers who don't want to deal with the imperfect speech of a five year old with hearing problems, etc...
Being able to give families and children a place to do outings and have the support and friendship that they deserve means the world to us.
We have Art and Dance Teachers on board who find joy in teaching to anyone who wants to learn, Equine handlers who know the thrill and excitement that can be gotten from riding a horse when walking is even difficult or can't be done, Nature and Wildlife experts that want to impart all of their knowledge onto the next generation regardless of disabilities.
No one should have to miss out on life because of something that's not their fault - and we're trying to make it possible for them to do everything on a regular basis that would otherwise be, at best, a "once in a while" occurrence.
Your Contributions - Your Rewards
The initial contributions to the campaign will go towards the down payment for the property. Anything above that will be dispersed as shown in this Pie Chart (also shown in gallery).
The property's total price is $1,200,000. The owners payoff on the loan is just under our $500,000 goal.
(Perspective: for the cost of a drink out of a machine, .15% of the US population could fund this project... Or, for a franchise coffee drink, .03% of the population would get us to our initial goal!)
Once the owner is free and clear of his loan with the bank, he will do owner financing or creative financing options.
We will also be able to apply for the grants to help with a lot of the projects on the property, helping to pay it off that much more quickly and begin holding special needs events.
(Bonus: As soon as the owner is cleared of his loan with the bank, the price might be dropped substantially - giving us the ability to put more of the money into the events!)
The property already has concrete roads, drainage ditches, underground electric throughout, and its own Water and Sewerage treatment facilities
(As I said earlier - a defunct subdivision), which is why the asking price is so high; however, property values in the area have lowered, due to being interspersed with wetlands. (Picture in gallery)
Given that the property already has its roads, water, and electric, it would not be difficult or expensive to build the art and dance facilities, or the stables for the horses.
(Note: All of the horses are rescues that came either from the racetracks, or from abusive and neglecting homes. For pictures, please check out the Facebook page. )
There are literally (figuratively?) endless possibilities to be done in this property for Special Needs children.
The few we're looking at right now deal with the horses, the arts, the pool, the nature and wildlife aspect, a specially designed playground, and sports to get them all engaged! (Read more about these ideas below.)
And this is just the first phase!
Once we get this project rolling, we will be able to start purchasing the surrounding properties (which are mostly wetlands - see the color-coded image in the gallery) to help preserve the wetlands and wildlife in the area; furthermore, it will be an ever increasing area with more fun and educational events for children and their families to experience.
Who wouldn't love to go down a wheelchair accessible boardwalk, through cypress trees, spear grass and cattails and watch the lizards run down the trees, the turtles slunk back in to the ponds, or the red tailed hawks and bald eagles soar by?
With your donations, you wouldn't only be helping to purchase a piece of property, or help preserve wildlife and wetlands... you would also be giving a chance for a child and their family to have a wonderful, lifelong memory.
As such, you would also be getting something in return, besides the warm-fuzzy feeling of knowing you just helped to do an amazing thing; at a certain level, you would get something unique from one of the many children who are already looking forward to this. Most of these children are artists of their own design and love to draw and paint, and those who are able have offered to give donors a personalized painting or art project.
The higher you go, the more you get (of course, right?) We are working with renowned artists who have done work the world over to possibly offer up a few pieces for the really big donors (to be announced when this is confirmed)
And of course there's those in between - from having autographed photos, to engraved horseshoes around the arena, to having your name immortalized on the bronze dedication sign we have planned.
And that's just what we have for right now!
Now, worst case scenario, and we do not reach our goal (the thought saddens me beyond comprehension) - there are other pieces of property that can be bought to do this project on; however, they are not nearly as perfect as this one.
They are mostly raw land, no water or electric or roads in place, and it would take much longer to bring this dream to fruition - but your donations would not be in vain - because this will happen one way or another.
What will happen...
Once the project is started, it will roll out in these phases:
- Down payment on the property.
- Build accessible "facilities".
- Begin hosting events and workshops.
- Continue working on the grants and financing to complete the purchase.
Events... All different shapes and sizes and colors.
A small list, with explanations below.
- Horseback Riding (Or Carriage Rides)
- Art Lessons and workshops
- Dance and Theater Lessons
- Wetlands and Wildlife workshops
- Therapeutic Swimming and Lessons
- Sporting events
~Horseback Riding and Carriage Rides
Imagine walking or running, something most of us take for granted - now imagine not being able to do that simple task with relative ease, if at all.
The freedom that can be experienced by being on a horse, or even being pulled by one, is exhilarating and exciting!
As you can see from the video, even a 3 year old can ride (with some guidance on the horse).
What about those who even have difficulty sitting up straight? Well, there's a Special Needs Saddle for that.
Or, for those that can't (or don't) want to ride the horse, there's other options - a Wheelchair Accessible Carriage for example, or regular surreys.
~Art Lessons and workshops
Temperatures not conducive to outdoor activities? Not a problem - there's always something to do.
We have World-Renowned artist George Dunbar on our team - always eager to teach the joys and splendor of art to anyone who wants to learn - and other local artists too!
~Dance and Theater Lessons
This activity will begin as soon as facilities can be built to sustain them - with the possibility for small outdoor workshops until then - so that all of the children can learn the arts and put on plays and ballets for their friends and family and the local community.
~Wetlands and Wildlife Education
We have Wetlands and Wildlife experts from the state and local organizations that are thrilled at the prospect of coming out to teach the importance of preservation and protection of the Wetlands and the Wildlife that inhabits them.
With any luck, the pair of Bald Eagles will be as easily viewed during these exhibits as they were when the Audubon Society was photographing them this past November.
~Therapeutic Swimming and Lessons
After calling nearly every local spot that offered swimming lessons and seeing how reticent they were to teach a child with hip dysplasia (let alone Autism), we realized that this was a much needed thing in our area.
Low and Behold, the property already has the basis needed for a swimming pool - An Old Swimming Pool. Refurbish it, Re-line it, Re-open it (as well as extend it) and voila... Enjoyment!
After coaching Salem's t-ball team last year, we realized something rather saddening - a lot of people would rather not deal with the special needs kids.
When we explained that Salem was special needs, the director asked if we would like to work with more special needs children - they all came to our team, and we had a blast! By the end of the season, you couldn't tell the difference between children, only that everyone had had a great time - and that's just with t-ball.
There's baseball, soccer, kickball, all of the Olympic style events, and more.
Jude (the youngest of the second generation of Billingsly's) has been a big supporter of Special Needs sporting events, volunteering and supporting them as often as possible; however, as great as the national Special Needs sporting events are, the events are few and far between, not an 'Every Monday and Thursday, 8-5' kind of setup.
What's great though is that, once we get everything set up, we'll be able to network with those groups and coordinate our efforts to work together, creating even more possibilities!
What will you get with your donations?
(Outside of our everlasting gratitude... - Note: Each level gets the benefits of the prior level - so if you're at the highest, you'll get everything down to the lowest!)
It All Helps!
> $1 - You'll get a personalized shout-out on our facebook page for helping the cause!
Next Best Thing
> $5 - You'll get your name on a printed horseshoe to be displayed in the art cabin.
> $10 - You'll get your name in the news letter, letting everyone know we appreciate your contribution.
> $25 - You'll get a nifty 'Arcadian Walk' bumper sticker!
Got you covered
> $50 - You'll receive an 'Arcadian Walk' t-shirt (your choice of size)
> $100 - You will be the recipient of an autographed photo of one of the children you're helping, with a personalized thank you message!
> $250 - Even better, you'll get a custom, one of a kind painting or scultpure by one of the children, as well as all of the other benefits!
Better than the Next Best Thing
> $500 - A Real horseshoe (not a paper one) with your name and contribution engraved on a plate, for your decoration or to be hung on the wall-of-fame of the stables!
Yellow Brick Road
> $1,000 - All of the above, plus your name in a brick for either the wetlands walkway or the arboretum walkway (your choice!)
> $2,500 - Everything else, but something greater! Your name embossed on the huge Bronze commemorative sign we have planned for the entrance!
Other Ways You Can Help
Can't donate, but want to help in other ways? Great!
Have an idea for the property that we haven't thought of?
(there's a lot of ideas going through our heads, such as: archery, scout camps for special needs, paddle boats, fishing, arboretum (with the children learning gardening) etc...etc...etc... like was said, way up there ^^^, Endless possibilities!)
Would you like to Donate time? It's a valuable commodity that is in short supply.
Know someone who might be able to help us find financing options?
Know people to network with who are with Special Needs groups?
Share this page, the Facebook, the Video, the Twitter - Share it all! Get the word out!
E-mail us @ ">ArcadianWalk@gmail.com with any information or suggestions you might have,
Message us on our Facebook, share the story and the page through your networks!
Twitter much? Never really got in to it, but I'm learning now... Follow us @ArcadianWalk
Any little bit helps!
And it might be a little premature, but thank you all.
Thank you for taking the time to read this, for sharing it, and for considering to help us in achieving our dream.
Sincerely, The Billingsly Family.