WEST FARGO — The eighth and final week of a two-month archery program at Sandhills Archery -- sponsored by Hope Inc. -- wrapped up Wednesday, March 31. Club organizers give much of the credit for the program to a graduate student looking to make a difference.
Brock Kolander is an occupational therapy graduate student at the University of Mary campus in Fargo. While the program is part of his capstone, it's quickly grown to become more meaningful for him.
"Maybe they haven't, but they've seen their peers do it, but they haven't had the opportunity to do it," said Kolander. "Anytime you can provide someone with that, it's truly life-changing."
As many as 20 different shooters have come a long way in nearly two months. New or experienced, they're just like any other kids, enjoying the friendships made in an activity that they're getting pretty good at.
"I think a lot of people when they think of people with a disability, they don't always realize that they have the same abilities as someone who is neurotypical," said Kolander. "They're just like anybody else."
Jack Woitzl never tried archery before joining the program.
"You get to shoot bows, it's just fun," he said.
Linden Prom enjoys improving her skills but also making new friends.
"I've been having a lot of fun learning, and I just like meeting people, it's just fun in general," said Prom.
Hope Inc. and Sandhills Archery are discussing the possibility of a summer program as well.
Kolander hopes the experience the athletes get in the program can transcend into their everyday-lives.
"You can kind of see how they're skills have developed but also their self-esteem and how they're improving and having more confidence in themselves," he said. "It's really a sport that we want to be able to give them as a life-long activity."