We met Oanh Bui, the founder of the Circle of Vietnamese Parents, in the summer of 2015 when her daughter who is on the Autism spectrum came on a kayaking program. Oanh’s passion is to build up families of Asian descent and believes adventure-education programs are a key element to her work. Her parents’ support group provides educational and emotional support for Vietnamese-speaking families who have youth with various disabilities including Autism. Her mission is to provide social and recreational opportunities for young adults so they can integrate more into their communities and to empower parents who are always the best advocates for their loves ones.
Due to social stigma and different perspectives about disability within the Vietnamese community, many Vietnamese families with children with disabilities, autism, or mental health issues hardly have opportunities to participate in any public events. Parents from the Circle of Vietnamese Parents face language AND cultural differences so the opportunities to recreate in linguistically and culturally appropriate programs are hard to come by!
Thanks to the DCR’s Universal Access Program, Waypoint Adventure and the Circle of Vietnamese Parents had the exciting opportunity to hike last week in Blue Hills Reservation! It was a COLD day and, honestly, the expectation was that a few people would probably cancel due to temperatures being in the single digits. But to our surprise, EVERY SINGLE person came and the parking lot started buzzing at 10am with families excited to participate and layer up with donated Patagonia gear for our beautiful winter hike! It was an awesome day and Oanh recalled later how impactful the experience was for these families. Parents got to see their kids overcome challenges and participate fully ….something a lingering negative stigma would have never expected them to do.
Hikes like this one help re-frame the expectations we have for our kids and ultimately builds the family and transforms lives!