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Tempe Elementary Employee Starts Non-Profit for Intellectually Disabled Children, Adults

Post Date:10/25/2018

JonCox_400x244Tempe Elementary often has employees who go above and beyond to make an impact in the lives of others. That is true of Hudson Elementary PUPALS Instructional Assistant Jon Cox, who, for the last 43 years, has been running a non-profit organization called Recreational Horizons to benefit intellectually disabled children and adults.  

Cox has been in special education for 44 years. During his second year as a teacher, a co-worker approached Cox about taking special needs students on fun trips to places like theme parks, zoos, and other destinations. Cox agreed to help, and quickly realized how impactful it would be to take kids on trips regularly. Thus, he created Recreational Horizons.

The organization was officially kicked off in the summer of 1979. Trips were taken on weekends and during school breaks. Chaperones on these trips are employees of school districts, and donate their paid time off to the trip. As the years went on, trips were added to cities in Arizona, Florida, Texas, in addition to cruises, and more. The age limit was extended to welcome adults as well.

“There’s not really anything else like this out there for the kids. This is something that is special for them, and they may not have the opportunity without Recreational Horizons,” Cox said.

Another added benefit of the trip is that it provides much needed respite for the regular caretakers of the individuals.

“Every trip we take, the participants and the chaperons all come away having a good time. It’s great that we are able to see we’re making a difference in their lives, while giving their caretakers a much needed rest,” Cox said.

Of course, these trips come with a price tag. But that hasn’t stopped the group from finding ways to make it possible for the people they serve. At every Arizona Cardinals home football game, volunteers from Recreational Horizons show up to work in the concession stand, which funds many of their trip expenses.

“To see the joy on the kids’ faces on the bus, to see everyone so excited and eager to go, and to know these trips are a big thing in their lives all makes it worth it,” Cox said.

The most recent Recreational Horizons trip took place during fall break, and Cox had 11 TD3 employees as chaperons, the largest number to-date.

“I have been involved with Recreational Horizons for seven years now. I have so enjoyed going on the trips, as you get to know everyone and they have such huge hearts,” said Holdeman Elementary School Office Manager Alicia Webber. “I know that parents and caretakers alike are very grateful for the trips Jon plans for Recreational Horizons.”

If you would be interested in helping out with Recreational Horizons and the work that they do, reach out to Jon Cox (jonathan.cox@tempeschools.org). Thank you to Jon and all TD3 employees for their dedicated work to the lives of others!