Exceptional Anglers Event Teaches Special Needs Kids the Art of Fishing

Oak Mountain State Park near Birmingham will host the annual Exceptional Anglers event called “Gone Fishin’, Not Just Wishin’” on May 12 – 14, 2010. During the event special needs students from the Shelby and Jefferson county school systems, ages five to 21 with various physical and mental challenges, will be given the opportunity to fish. Students will also participate in art projects, perform with local musicians, listen to storytellers, and learn aspects of water safety including the proper use of life jackets.
New to this year’s event will be the recently expanded fishing pier, which will provide more than double the available space for the kids to fish. The media are invited to experience the event and see the new pier on Media Day which will be Thursday May 13, 2010 from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. The event takes place behind the park’s main office.
“Without our sponsors and volunteers this event and the pier expansion would not be possible,” said Barnett Lawley, Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (ADCNR) Commissioner. “We are very grateful for their help in enriching the lives of these students.”
Volunteers from many companies including ADCNR personnel will assist and teach students the basics of fishing. Students will each receive a keepsake photo of themselves with their catch. To make the experience a positive one, a small portion of the park’s lake will be enclosed and stocked with channel catfish and largemouth bass to make it easier to catch a fish. Saturday morning these fish will be available for the public to catch. Normal entrance fees and fishing license requirements apply.
Alabama Superintendent of Education Joe Morton believes the Exceptional Anglers program and others like it provide students with unique opportunities to learn many things about the outdoors. “Most of these students may not have the chance to enjoy activities like this if it weren’t for the Exceptional Anglers program,” said Morton. “The support that the Jefferson and Shelby county school systems have given the program is indicative of their commitment to Alabama’s special needs children.”
This Community Fishing Program would not be possible without the generous support of area sponsors including Alabama Power, Alagasco, Consolidated Pipe, El Paso Southern Natural Gas, the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources’ Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries Division, Oak Mountain State Park, the Pelham Police and Fire Departments, Coca Cola, Ebsco, Golden Flake, Academy Sports + Outdoors, Syx Bait, Jefferson and Shelby county school systems and more.
Since June 1995, over 735 Community Fishing Events have served 155,000 Alabama kids, families, seniors, and disabled participants. Upcoming events for children, persons with disabilities, and seniors are listed at www.outdooralabama.com/outdoor-adventures/fishing.cfm.
The Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources promotes wise stewardship, management and enjoyment of Alabama’s natural resources through five divisions: Marine Police, Marine Resources, State Lands, State Parks, and Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries. To learn more about ADCNR, visit www.outdooralabama.com .