Following up on the success of previous AT pop up events prior to Covid and in 2022 focusing on AT Financing and AT for Aging, NCATP partnered with AbleGamers to host 3 AT pop up events in 2023 focusing on Accessible Recreation and Gaming. The first of these events was held on March 25, 2023 in Winston-Salem in partnership with the Solutions for Independence IL Center and the JDL Indoor Track. Over 180 people attended this 4 hour event getting the opportunity to try accessible gaming, archery, pickleball, beep ball, bubble ball, adaptive bicycling, kayaking, fishing and hunting, and much more. Individuals and family members across all ages attended the event. Several attendees commented that they had not been exposed to any adaptive sporting or gaming activities and were excited about the opportunity to learn more, share with others, and participate in county/community leagues.
The 2 additional AT pop up events will be held on April 21, 2023 in Wilmington, NC and on May 19th in Sanford, NC. NCATP has already started discussions with the exceptional family members program on Ft Bragg (soon to be Ft. Liberty) Army installation for 2024.
The AT pop up initiatives will continue in NC. This has been an excellent way to spread information regarding assistive technology services and products. The first year, we hosted 10 pop up events across the state in partnership with the Self Help Credit Union (AFP) in NC. This was too many and put a strain on staff and partners. We narrowed the number down during Covid to 3 and held outside only events. For 2023, we moved into post-covid mode and the events are inside/outside venues. Focusing on a specific area of AT/category has been beneficial and allows us to target vendors/service providers offering specific services and products. The crowds are lower but all have been over 60 attendees with the last event being the largest. Partnering with key providers such as the IL center and AbleGamers has helped keep cost low, as well as we identified additional partners such as the JDL Indoor Track who provided the space at no cost.
These events are easy to replicate and have been wonderful PR events for NCATP. Our recommendation is don't plan to many, keep them topic/category focused, and find great partners with a commitment to the activity.