Special needs students learn social skills at fishing expedition - WSIL-TV 3 Southern Illinois

Special needs students learn social skills at fishing expedition

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CARBONDALE -- Thousands of people with special needs gathered at Bleyer Park Wednesday for a day of catch and release. 

The 32nd annual Fishing Expedition for Special Populations aims to get those with special needs outdoors and even pick an every day hobby, but for the kids, it means much more then just a day on the lake.

Students at Tri-County Special Education have been talking about Wednesday's fishing expedition for the past several days.

"Our kids get excited days before. They're all asking questions about what to wear, what to bring, and do they have ice cream? Which of course they do," said Diane Gearhart, a special education teacher at Tri-County.

Gearhart says the students get the opportunity to learn a new hobby, as well as interact with their classmates in a new setting.

"The socialization is probably the most important. Socialization, following rules and directions of how to properly handle their fishing poles, and not hook another student," Gearhart added.

Organizers say the event aims to help build a community with the special population.

"It benefits them, as well as the volunteers with just a fun day to be out and really create a lot of memories, make some new friends as well," said Elizabeth Berumen, an organizer through the Bank of Carbondale.

Gearhart adds the event is a fun way to get the students learning something new, in a new way.

"A lot of our students may not ever experience a day like today, fishing. Hey have the opportunity to be with their school family outside of the classroom, and experience an everyday occurrence that might happen with their family," said Gearhart.

Gearhart says the fishing expedition is a great way for those with special needs to get out and enjoy nature. Planning for next year's expedition is already underway. If you are interested in registering, contact the Bank of Carbondale.

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