Angelina County Ag News: Special needs youths get time to shine at Angelina County Fair livestock show
ANGELINA COUNTY, Texas (KLTV) - One of the best events you’ll see at the Angelina County Fair is called Reach for the Stars “Celebrating the Possibilities”. It will be a livestock show on Thursday, March 23 at 5 p.m. that will showcase the talents of special needs youth from across our county. Participants will be paired up with a 4-H or FFA buddy to exhibit livestock and learn that they can succeed in the show arena as well.
Patrick is the 17-year-old son of Chris and Teresa Colvin, and has one younger brother, Garrett. Patrick is a student at Lufkin High where he is a Junior and participates in the Self-Contained Program.
The Colvin family recently relocated to East Texas after dad Chris retired from serving in the Army for 20 years. Teresa is originally from Nacogdoches and says, “The Lufkin area feels so inclusive and is very encouraging.”
When asked what led them to participate in the show, Teresa said “We wanted to be more involved in the community, especially in events that are inclusive, so when we heard about this opportunity, we decided to sign up.”
At home Patrick loves to ride his bike, hang out his friend Chelsi, watch movies, and he says, “I love Sonic!” Patrick and his family have a beagle dog named Bella and a cat whose name is ‘Kitty’. His mom says that being around animals helps calm him. When his dad was stationed at Fort Hood, Patrick helped at a ranch where he would feed and water the livestock.
Karen Stafford is one of the volunteers leading this show. Stafford says, “I had started seeing this type of show in other counties around Texas, and I’ve seen some special needs kids showing at the major stock shows, and I just felt like it was time for us to offer something like this in our county and our community.”
“The support and enthusiasm have been overwhelmingly positive,” Stafford continues, “The response from the 4-H and FFA kids willing to donate their animals and be show buddies for the exhibitors is very heartwarming. This year, in less than 24 hours, we had 37 youth fair exhibitors sign up to volunteer. Our Angelina County kids want to help in a big way.”
Looking ahead, she states, “I hope these exhibitors will see that livestock showing really is achievable for them and maybe they will consider joining a 4-H or FFA group and becoming a part of the Angelina County Fair in the future. Also, animals have calming and therapeutic effects, and I’ve seen what it can do for kids with different ranges of disabilities. These livestock animals might be what a kid needs, but they just might not know it yet.”
Patrick’s mom, Teresa stated, “Being able to participate in the County Fair means so much because they have taken the time to consider those with special needs. This is a wonderful opportunity to participate like his peers, because this event is geared towards his developmental level and ability.”
Registration for the Reach for the Stars show is available online at AngelinaCountyFair.com. This is an opportunity for special needs children in grades 3 – 12. The event is free, but you must pre-register by March 17th at the website. Click on Exhibitors, then “contest” and follow the link to the Special Needs Livestock Show.
The public is invited to see the Reach for the Stars show at 5pm on Thursday, March 23 in the main arena of the EXPO in Lufkin.
Cary Sims is the County Extension Agent for agriculture and natural resources for Angelina County. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
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