Alumna Sets 'Dreams in Motion'
There are activities in life we take for granted. Simple activities like walking, breathing, even running can often be overlooked. However, there are many who don’t have permanent access to these skills. Alumna Jackie Mrachek ’00, PT ’02, PT ‘03, helps make these activities possible for the disabled.
Mrachek serves on the board of directors for Dreams in Motion, a nonprofit organization that emerged in the spring of 2011 in Bismarck, N.D., with the mission to provide recreational and sporting activities for youth and young adults, ages 2 to 25, with mobility challenges or visual impairments.
These sporting activities involve family, friends and volunteers regardless of the physical abilities of participants. All participants use wheelchairs despite their actual mobility capabilities to provide an equal and competitive field.
The founders of Dreams in Motion recognize the limited social opportunities available to individuals with such impairments, specifically those related to sports participation. Dreams in Motion strongly believes the life lessons and skills learned through sport participation are especially important to individuals who are disabled. These skills include team interactions, participation, coping with winning and losing, communication, sportsmanship, self-confidence, goal setting, training and preparation for goal achievement and a sense of accomplishment when goals are achieved.
“Individuals with mobility challenges are often forced to rely on others for assistance with basic life tasks,” said Mrachek. “Consequently, the sense of pride and self-worth that can emerge from completing a task or goal independently is often impaired or significantly delayed."
By doing so, said Mrachek, "Dreams in Motion helps enable individuals with mobility challenges and/or visual impairments to become stronger citizens who contribute to the community in multiple ways.”
Working as a physical therapist in pediatrics at Sanford Health in Bismarck, Mrachek became familiar with Dreams in Motion.
“In 2012, I transitioned to part-time work at the hospital and began looking into volunteer opportunities I could do with my two children. I wanted to teach the importance of serving others in your community. Due to the fact that I work with children with special needs and I felt the mission of Dreams in Motion was very important to the kids and families I work with. It’s been an awesome opportunity,” said Mrachek.
By providing participants with fun and safe sports experiences, “the kids who attend have so much fun and it is a complete joy to be part of each event from curling to soccer to basketball to sled hockey,” explained Mrachek. With results such as these, Dreams in Motion plans to become a Paralympics organization by 2014. To become a Paralympics organization, Dreams in Motion must provide 40 or more sporting activities; currently it offers over 30.
An alumna from the Pacific University School of Physical Therapy, Mrachek worked with Outdoor Adventures, which took special needs kids on outdoor sporting events such as hiking and kayaking. Mrachek recalled, “Pacific helped me develop my leadership, communication, and professional skills. Through my collegiate education, I developed the skills to become successful and confident as a board director with Dreams in Motion.”