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'Thurston County Inclusion' hopes to bring together children of all abilities

Community members are invited to get involved in upcoming summer camps either as participants or volunteers.

LACEY, Wash. — On a crisp April day at Woodland Creek Park in Lacey, bicycles circled the track as new friendships were formed through Thurston County Inclusion.

"Thurston County Inclusion's mission is to provide opportunities for youth with all abilities to create, build and strengthen relationships that will last a lifetime," said co-founder Natalie Stagnone, a UW senior and recipient of the Mary Gates Scholarship. "Effectively, what that means is, we bring youth with and without intellectual disabilities together for year-round programming, outdoor activities like today, just to provide community outside of an academic or competitive environment."

They partnered with "Outdoors for All" for the adaptive cycling event. For this summer, they're planning a series of camp events like going sailing and going to a farm along with art and science activities.

"A lot of people don't have the opportunity to interact with people with intellectual disabilities outside of a school or competitive," said Stagnone. "So the goal of this program is to provide experiences for youth with and without intellectual disabilities to get to know others with diverse backgrounds."

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