Nacogdoches hosts Exceptional Kids Rodeo for special needs children

Published: Mar. 27, 2021 at 10:58 PM CDT
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NACOGDOCHES, Texas (KTRE) - The Nacogdoches pro rodeo wraps up tonight, but some East Texas kids got to enjoy a rodeo experience of their own. It is called the Exceptional Kids Rodeo, and it had activities and animals to help build sensory skills.

This is Bella Speer in her cowboy hat. Like Bella, many other children with special needs came out to play for the exceptional kids rodeo.

“Introducing her to new stuff that she doesn’t necessarily get to see all the time. Horses, the other animals, and things like that, you know,” said Sean Speer, Bella’s father. “It is definitely new for her. I think if she was here a little longer, she would open up more to them. You know with everything new, it just kind of skeptical to begin with.”

Bella’s parents, Sean and Virginia Speer, said this type of rodeo environment has been a learning adjustment.

“It is the intake. She is having to take a few minutes to process it because it is a little bit of a sensory overload,” Sean Speer added. “But she is handled it great, and everyone has been really patient. They have set up where they need to and gave her a little space, so it’s great.”

The event organizer, Katlyn Humphreys worked with special needs kids in the past. She says these types of events help build sensory skills.

“We wanted to have something for every kid to do no matter what their disability is. It really is a lot of sensory things,” Humphreys said. “Just so they can move their arms, touch those ropes, touch the dirt, dig in the sand, pets those animals, and feel their fur. Things like that just to help the get grounded with everything.”

Along with growth, Humphreys says keeping everyone safe is just as important.

“Now that everything is kind of lifted, we still have the masks and hand sanitizer. We still have it all spaced out, just to make sure everyone feels comfortable,” Humphreys explained.

Bella’s parents say there are not a lot of activities in Nacogdoches that cater to special needs children, but they hope for change in the community.

“There was a defining moment in our lives when we said enough is enough. So, we go to different stuff in here, in Houston, and in Dallas. Just wherever we can go, we try to be around other kids. I believe it is a learning experience for people who may not have special needs, as well,” Speer said.

In the near future, Humphreys plans to start a program called tree. It will help children with special needs and foster kids learn how to ride horses.

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