Special to The Sun
It was a rainy Oklahoma afternoon in Edmond, and Shouna Olson was soaking wet from giving a hay ride.
“Two girls were visiting from Dallas and their eyes began to fill with tears because they were going to miss the hay ride,” she said, as water dripped from her hair. “I looked at the young girls and said if it isn’t too wet for you, then it isn’t too wet for me. Jump on.”
Olson, and her husband Gary Olson are one of the families who have played a role in building a community for the special needs called WINGS. WINGS strives to provide a warm and creative environment that is a careful balance between independence and assistance.
Thanks to health care improvements, special needs youngsters are living a longer life but after they graduate high school they often have a hard time finding their role in the community. WINGS created this program to help those young adults reach their full potential through job training, post-high school education and art. The adult program currently has 20 students from ages 18 to 57 enrolled.
“Everyone has a purpose,” said Carey Hinchey, WINGS executive director.
With cooler weather comes anticipation of the fall season and WINGS’ annual Fall Festival. The festival includes pumpkins for sale in all shapes and sizes, hay rides, pumpkin decorating, fall decoration and fun activities for children of all ages. Cost is $4 per person to attend.
The Fall Festival will run through Oct. 31. It is open for individual visitors, families, groups or a school program or party. The school program would include an educational class over pumpkins, a “Kids on the Block” puppet show and a walk under the Hanging Gourd Bridge.
WINGS has a client waiting list, and proceeds from this second annual Fall Festival will help the nonprofit expand its program.
The WINGS community wants residents to come visit and fall in love with their artists, whose wares include ceramic crosses, Christmas ornaments, paintings and more. They are secretly hoping you will have the same reaction to the array of pumpkins as WINGS adult student Preston Olson had when he yelled, “Praise God.”
WINGS is at 13700 N. Eastern Ave., just north of Memorial Road on Boulevard. For more information, call 242-4646 or visit www.wingsok.org. Fall festival hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday-Saturday and noon to 5 p.m. Sunday through Oct. 31.