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A member of the Oxnard Special Populations enjoys a little football. (Photo by Chris Frost)
Friday, August 23, 2019

By Chris Frost


Oxnard—The summer may be winding down, but that doesn't stop the Oxnard Special Populations, as the group took advantage of the beautiful weather and enjoyed a day at the park on Aug. 10.


Attendees enjoyed a delicious lunch, the bouncy house and spent the afternoon playing football, Jenga, making necklaces and riding the train, courtesy of the Oxnard City Corp.


Group Leader Maria Sandoval loved the swimming lessons with the kids the most during the summer.


"PAL sponsors our swimming program, and one of my favorite things was having the kids go out and swim," she said. "The instructors were teaching them, and I really enjoy that. I am seeing them go out and learn something new. It was awesome. Some of them were afraid of water, but by the end of the program, they were in the pool."


Throughout the summer, the population continues to grow and develop.


"Everyone is different," she said. "Some gained social skills, some learned how to swim, and some learned how to become part of a team. This year, we had a lot of little ones, so it was neat for them to come out and be part of a team. One of the big things is learning to socialize, which is a big step because some of them don't know how."


Adrianna Benitez loves the beach and coming to the day at the park.


"We're coloring," she said. "The kids go back to school next week, but today is for fun."


Paola liked going to the fairgrounds with her program and her friends.


"I want to go shopping at the mall with my friends and family," she said. "I also like to play basketball and soccer. I like coloring, and I am a good artist."


She was enjoying a big slice of watermelon.


"I like it a lot," she said." Someday, I want to have a job riding horses. I also want to work in an office with my sister making copies, and I also want to work at McDonald's."


She is also a cheerleader.


"I cheer at the games and fun club," she said.


Alejandra Marquez loves the fun club.


"I enjoy coming out and hanging out with my daughter," she said. "My daughter loves coming out to the park, and she enjoys watching people participate and walking."


Maria Vasquez loves the swimming program, but she does not get in the water.


"I love everything about the swimming program," her son Brandon Reyes said. "I'm going to get on the train. I like the board games that we play in the park."


He's enjoyed playing video games over the summer.


Aldo Pulido just started volunteering with the soccer kids; he did it to gains skills toward becoming an adaptive physical education teacher.


"I specialize in the special population, which helps kids have a better quality of life," he said. "You can see how their quality of life changes after a while. It helps you realize what life is."


He loves all the people who help kids with special needs.


"I have a big heart for this situation," he said. 


Stephanie Martinez brought her son Henry and daughter Sofia to the event, and the trio was playing Jenga.


"It is one of Henry's favorite games," Stephanie said. "I never expected that Henry would be able to participate in sports or join a team. When I found out about this, we started with the little league, and it was a fun experience for all of us."


The kids enjoy going to the park.


"They ask me all week long when we're going to go," she said. "The kids fall asleep at 8 or 9 o'clock."   


Henry, who has autism, learned how to communicate with other children thanks to the special populations' program.


"He is learning how to play with them and be a little more verbal," Stephanie said. "Henry is friendly but can't verbalize that he wants to play."

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