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Kids couldn’t go to the fish, so Central Texas nonprofit brought the fish to them

Published: Jul. 1, 2021 at 4:27 PM CDT
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WACO, Texas (KWTX) -Hundreds of area kids with special needs have been able to enjoy some fishing fun without the sun, thanks to a local nonprofit that set up a large fishing tank inside a therapy center.

JMB Fishing Foundation, which often takes kids who are disabled or seriously ill out on a lake to fish, decided this time to bring the fish to the kids, so they set up a tank the size of a room Wednesday and Thursday at Elite Therapy Center in Waco.

The indoor tank was a hit with the kids.
The indoor tank was a hit with the kids.(Courtesy photo)

“We don’t get to take all the kids out to the lake and go fishing on the boat, so this is a great opportunity to bring the fish inside to the kids. We’re able to reach a lot more kids that way,” JMB Board Member James Aldridge said.

James’ wife Stephanie is an occupational therapist at Elite, and also the foundation’s vice president.

She said she was overjoyed to see the kids experience something they had never done before.

“It’s so fun to be able to see my work kids be able to experience something they’ve never done before like fishing,” she said.

“Some of them who are normally shy and quiet were super chatty and had a lot to say about the fish. Some of them were extra calm because they love just watching the fish and playing with them.”

Therapists say the kids, while having fun, were also practicing social skills and independence while casting a line.

“It was really cool to see skills that you would never see on a normal basis with these kids and see them experience something that they’ve never done before,” Stephanie added.

Mom Kirsten Krause says it was a joy to watch her daughter Kendal, who has the neurogenetic disorder Aicardi syndrome, get a chance just to be a kid.

“Today was so exciting and special to the kids. Not only did they get to go fishing like so many typical kids get to, but they got to do it in a protected and safe environment with their therapists,” Kirsten said.

This was the first time JMB held the indoor event but based on its success the volunteers say they plan to make it an annual event.

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