#162 - The Vision Behind This Inclusive Sports League - 2.0 with Gabriel Moreno, Founder of Game Changers Idaho

by Jessica Hill, COTA/L & Rachel Harrington, COTA/L, AC July 21, 2021

#162 - The Vision Behind This Inclusive Sports League - 2.0 with Gabriel Moreno, Founder of Game Changers Idaho

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The Vision Behind This Inclusive Sports League  - 2.0 with Gabriel Moreno, Founder of Game Changers Idaho

Today we are welcoming back the very first guest we ever had on this podcast, Gabriel Moreno! 

The world is suffering from a loneliness epidemic, and through Game Changers Idaho, Gabe is on a mission to remedy this by providing a sense of belonging through various sports programs. His optimism and enthusiasm are infectious and his mission “to find those who seek to spread goodness so that others may be fulfilled” is one that we can fully get behind. 

In today’s episode, Gabe explains what Game Changers is, how it is positively impacting children from a diverse range of backgrounds and abilities, and how the families in their programs give back in their own way. Enhancing the quality of life of others makes one's own life better, and Gabe and his numerous volunteers can all attest to that fact. 

Since this is the All Things Sensory podcast, we also discuss how Gabe ties sensory elements into the Game Changers programs, and he even lets us in on his own sensory quirks! 

Key Points From This Episode:

  • The value in sitting and doing nothing. 
  • A brief explanation of what Gabe’s full-time job, and his side project, entail. 
  • How helping others also helps you. 
  • The loneliness epidemic, and how Game Changers Idaho is on the road to remedying it. 
  • Who Game Changers is aimed at. 
  • Beauty that lies in diversity.
  • Various programs that are part of Game Changers, and the people who run them. 
  • “To find those who seek to spread goodness so others may be fulfilled” - the Game Changers mission statement. 
  • Why Gabe does not plan to expand Game Changers beyond Treasure Valley.
  • Gabe shares some of the most special moments he has had with Game Changers.
  • The value that Game Changers provides to parents. 
  • Where Gabe draws his inspiration from. 
  • Experiences that Gabe has had working with other adaptive sports programs, and how Game Changers differs from these. 
  • How the Game Changers community gives back to others. 
  • Where you can sign up for, or donate to, Game Changers.

Highlights:

“We’re a program now that is offering this sense of belongingness. Everybody in the world needs that. That’s who we are at Game Changers.” — Gabriel Moreno[11:42]

“We have a ton of volunteers that just simply understand these kids. That is a powerful asset right there.” — Gabriel Moreno[14:38]

“In life, my parents, people gave my parents a break and helped us. I want to be able to pass that on.” — Gabriel Moreno[30:21]

“If a kid left happy from Game Changers, that’s a success right there and that’s who we are. We’re simple but we're going to feed off of that.” — Gabriel Moreno[32:00]

“We’re a sports program but we’re much more than that. We want to offer happiness to the parents too.” — Gabriel Moreno[50:00]

Links Mentioned in Today’s Episode:

Game Changers Idaho

Game Changers Idaho on Facebook

Game Changers Idaho on Instagram

Love Doesby Bob Goff

Everybody Alwaysby Bob Goff

Harkla

All Things Sensory on Instagram

All Things Sensory on Facebook

 

Full Show Transcript

[0:00:01.4] RH: Hey there, I’m Rachel.

 

[0:00:03.1] JH: I’m Jessica, and this is All Things Sensory by Harkla. Together, we’re on a mission to help children, families, therapists and educators live happy and healthy lives.

 

[0:00:12.2] RH: We dive into all things sensory, special needs, occupational therapy, parenting, self-care and so much more. In each episode, we share raw, honest, fun ideas and strategies for everyone to implement into daily life.

 

[0:00:24.6] JH: Thank you so much for joining us.

 

[INTERVIEW]

 

[0:00:31.8] RH: Hey everyone, welcome to All Things Sensory By Harkla. You are listening to your friends Rachel and Jessica and this is episode 162.

 

[0:00:40.9] JH: You’re going to love this episode because we are talking with Gabe, who was our very first interview on this podcast three years ago. 

 

[0:00:49.9] RH: Can you believe that?

 

[0:00:50.7] JH: No.

 

[0:00:52.2] RH: We are so excited to have him back on to share about everything that he’s doing as well as just some inspirational words for you. I don’t know who you are listening today but you’ll probably resonate with what Gabriel had to say and yeah, enjoy.

 

[0:01:07.7] JH: Yeah, all right, let’s do it. Here we are. It has been three years.

 

[0:01:13.5] RH: Is it three years?

 

[0:01:14.9] JH: I think so, yeah, this summer, because we started the podcast in July and it’s almost July.

 

[0:01:20.1] JH: It’s three years! 

 

[0:01:21.9] RH: Yeah, this is like our three-year anniversary of chatting with Gabe from, now, Game Changers Idaho.

 

[0:01:29.1] JH: You were our first interview.

 

[0:01:30.1] GM: I know, I’m so excited.

 

[0:01:32.4] JH: We are so excited to chat about all of the new things that you have accomplished but before we do, we have to do our secret questions, which were talking about before we started recording. We don’t remember them, do you remember them?

 

[0:01:46.1] RH: No, but you listened to the podcast this morning?

 

[0:01:48.4] GM: Yeah, I remember two of them. 

 

[0:01:49.7] JH: What were they?

 

[0:01:50.3] GM: One of them was, what are my sensory quirks, is that right? Sensory quirks and then hobbies and then I forgot the other one.

 

[0:01:56.1] RH: Okay, these will probably be new ones then. Okay, first of all, what is your favorite quote? You knew I was going to ask this.

[0:02:03.8] GM: Tough question. Okay, I’m just going to stick with the one that – I’m just going to stick with it, “Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing’s going to get better, it’s not.” It’s simple, it’s childish, I love it.

 

[0:02:14.7] JH: It’s a good saying.

 

[0:02:15.8] GM: It’s so true too.

 

[0:02:18.5] JH: What is your favorite book?

 

[0:02:20.7] GM: I would say it is a combination, written by Bob Goff,Love Does andEverybody Always, I loved it so much I got it tattooed.

 

[0:02:29.2] RH: Yes

 

[0:02:29.6] JH: I like that.

 

[0:02:30.4] GM: It’s a great book, a guy just doing amazing things out there, simply because he wants to and I can’t.

 

[0:02:36.8] JH: I feel like that’s going to be one day.

 

[0:02:38.2] GM: Yeah, I look up to the guy, he’s cool.

 

[0:02:39.8] RH: Yeah, love it. All right, I’m excited to hear this one, what is your morning routine like?

 

[0:02:45.8] GM: Okay, yeah. I think that was it, we talked about that last time.

 

[0:02:49.0] RH: Did we? Good, we’ll have to compare the two.

[0:02:52.0] GM: It’s the same still, my full-time job, working at a school. It is just taking 15 – regardless of what I do, I always take 15 minutes to myself, sitting down, no electronics, just sipping coffee. If I do have electronics, I’m playing chess.

 

[0:03:05.3] JH: Wow.

 

[0:03:05.3] GM: Queen’s Gambit got me going.

 

[0:03:07.4] RH: I love that show.

 

[0:03:08.2] GM: Yeah, that 15 minutes, I am playing online chess, I’ll play chess, sipping coffee and then from there I’ll just go about my day, going to work and whatnot. It’s a simple routine but I make sure to take 15 minutes, kind of slow life down a little bit.

 

[0:03:20.6] JH: Do you set a timer or do you just…

 

[0:03:22.3] GM: No, I’ll look at my phone, I got two more minutes to spare, I’ll sit for an extra minute or so and then I’ll go, yeah.

 

[0:03:29.7] JH: What is your favorite way to de-stress?

 

[0:03:32.5] GM: I’ve learned over the last couple of years, just man, slow things down. I think people have a hard time doing that, I really do, just in general. I feel like we’re just on the move, everybody, we gotta prove something all the time. I want to be on my own time so when I play, things are just too much for me, I’m at [0:03:50] a lot, one of my favorite things is just seeing old men just sitting there doing nothing.

 

[0:03:56.2] JH: At the coffee shop?

 

[0:03:57.2] GM: Yes, and they’re just sitting there and it’s like, “That’s like the coolest thing ever.”

[0:04:01.9] RH: You don’t see it very often.

 

[0:04:02.5] GM: No you don’t, there’s an old man sitting down, I sat next to him, he wasn’t doing anything. I got my laptop and I just sat there too. I’ve learned, just don’t do anything, slow down. For me, it’s just sitting in the moment and I’m not even thinking about anything, good or bad, I’m just sitting there.

 

Taking five, 10 minutes to myself. I was like, “Okay, let’s go about – let’s go do something, let’s go do one little thing.” Yeah, decompressing, we all have things to do. For me, it’s like, “What one little thing can I do and feel good about it?” Even if it’s reading or checking something off your to-do list.

 

[0:04:38.6] JH: That’s a good one.

 

[0:04:38.0] GM: I am taking things one at a time. Yeah. 

 

[0:04:41.1] JH: I’m going to try that.

 

[0:04:43.1] GM: Sit by an old person and simply enjoy life.

 

[0:04:45.9] JH: Just sit down and don’t do anything.

 

[0:04:47.2] GM: Yeah, they know it.

 

[0:04:49.5] RH: I used to wait tables at this little diner and all these sweet old men would just come in and just sit there and drink their coffee and chat. No one does that anymore, in our generation.

 

[0:05:01.3] GM: There’s a fun little quote, I saw an old man today, sitting at a coffee shop, no phone, no iPad, no computer, just sitting there, sipping his coffee like a sociopath. 

 

[0:05:12.0] JH: Who does that?

 

[0:05:13.8] GM: What a weirdo, I want to be that guy.

 

[0:05:16.0] RH: Me too.

 

[0:05:18.9] JH: Okay, this is the one we ask everyone, what is your sensory quirk?

 

[0:05:21.4] GM: Yeah, okay. When you asked me this last time, I had no idea what it was, I know what it is now. 

 

[0:05:26.0] RH: Good.

 

[0:05:26.8] GM: Tell me if it is, tell me if it is what it is. I’ve got two. I work in a school and I realized, actually, this year or the last couple of years, when I hear this little background noise, I notice it more than the louder kids. When I’m helping a kid one-on-one and I hear all these little giggling and whatnot, that actually – it doesn’t set me off but I’ve noticed that more than the kid I’m helping.

 

[0:05:49.4] RH: It’s hard to focus on what the kiddo is talking about. 

 

[0:05:51.1] GM: It is very hard and I’ve noticed that in the last couple of years, and that it’s such a quirk.

 

[0:05:53.4] JH: Yes.

 

[0:05:54.0] GM: That’s one of them right there, yeah.

 

[0:05:56.6] JH: I struggle with that one a lot too.

 

[0:05:58.2] GM: That’s a big one, I’m noticing all these little noises and that’s my main focus.

[0:06:02.8] RH: Okay, what’s your other one though?

 

[0:06:04.0] GM: The other one is, maybe this is it, I always, everywhere I go, I got my backpack with me and it’s – 

 

[0:06:09.9] RH: We were talking about this.

 

[0:06:11.4] GM: Super heavy, yeah.

 

[0:06:13.5] JH: My gosh, that’s way too heavy.

 

[0:06:14.7] GM: Every time I leave, I got journals in here, my laptop, books, but every time I leave my house, even when I don’t need it, I take it with me.

 

[0:06:22.3] RH: That’s what we were talking about, when we met that one time, you were like, “I don’t even need my backpack but I brought it because it’s heavy and it feels good.”

 

[0:06:28.6] GM: Also, I have my wallet in my bag right now, I don’t like the feel of my wallet, I always put my wallet in my backpack. I just don’t like having things in my pocket so I always put it on my backpack so I do need my backpack but I love that weight, I love that tension. I’ve realized that the last couple of years.

 

[0:06:45.3] RH: That’s a good one.

 

[0:06:45.5] GM: I was really excited to tell you about that. Everybody has them, right? Yeah.

 

[0:06:50.0] JH: Everyone does, yeah. I think it’s cool when people start to listen to these episodes and they’re like, “Oh yeah, I like that too,” or, “Oh yeah, I do that too.”

 

[0:06:58.6] RH: Yeah, I know what my sensory quirk is.

 

[0:07:00.3] GM: That’s my sensory quirk, I’m not going to brag.

 

[0:07:02.1] RH: You’re still functioning, right? You can still get through your day successfully, you’ve learned to modulate the input, you figured out what helps you, what doesn’t help you. Clearly, we need to get you started on the listening program. Yeah, I think that’s awesome that you figured that out.

 

Okay, let’s jump in and now you can tell us all the things that you do, tell us who you are, what you do, why you do it, for people who haven’t listened to episode 10, tell us what’s changed and what’s new.

 

[0:07:32.4] GM: I’m Gabriel Moreno, hello. My full-time job is working in The Boise School District at a junior high in the bridge program. What that is, it’s specifically for children of refugees, kids from Mexico, Guatemala, everywhere.

 

I help them, they all have their gen ed classrooms, they go to American classrooms and then they come back to me and I help re-explain it to them so they can understand it in their own way. That’s my full-time job and I love it. It’s a challenge. These kids, a lot of them are new at English and they’re just different cultures, different expectations. So that’s my full-time job and I really do enjoy it.

 

On the side, something that is like, on the side, I started a program called Game Changers Idaho and this sounds too simple and we’re going to go into detail later, okay?

 

[0:08:16.6] RH: Yes, we will.

 

[0:08:17.8] GM: Yeah, we can go into detail because what I’m going to say is too boring but it’s an adaptive sports league, but we’re so much more than that, for kids with and without disabilities in the grades of K through 12. That’s Game Changers but we’ll go into detail later and why I started it. Man, I just found something in life that I just connect to really well. I’m not out to prove anyone wrong, I’m not out to change the world.

Game Changers, being involved with these volunteers with these kids, this is where I’m at my best self and I’m going to tack on that, I’m going to grow it because it makes me a better person. I’m going to – that’s going to be my future job someday. It’s not my job now but it will be my future job someday. This is where I’m just my best self, it’s as simple as that. I perform the best in the situation. Selfishly.

 

[0:09:05.5] RH: You light up when you’re out there with those kiddos and you're making a difference.

 

[0:09:08.8] GM: Yeah, so selfishly, it’s a program for me but because of that, I’m able to do all of these programs for this population.

 

[0:09:17.5] JH: I think anytime we do something for someone else, it is selfish. I think of that phrase –

 

[0:09:23.5] RH: I was going to say, try to think of a selfless good deed.

 

[0:09:27.9] JH: There isn’t one and that’s okay.

 

[0:09:30.6] GM: I think people need to tack on that more often and we’re not. We know when we’re doing things for other people, it makes us feel good. Not just for people with disabilities, anybody. It naturally makes us feel good so why not do that more often?

 

[0:09:43.1] JH: Yeah.

 

[0:09:43.8] GM: I think we just do it, “I volunteer once a month.” No, do it more often, make it a habit.

 

[0:09:50.1] JH: Don’t just do it because your resume needs it.

 

[0:09:51.7] GM: Exactly, yeah.

[0:09:52.5] JH: You do it because you find that it fulfills you.

 

[0:09:55.0] GM: Make it part of your life because it does make people naturally happy. I never met an angry person helping somebody else.

 

[0:10:00.0] JH: Right?

 

[0:10:00.8] RH: Yeah.

 

[0:10:02.7] GM: Yeah, we’ll go into detail later.

 

[0:10:05.1] JH: We’ll just do it now, let’s just go into detail now.

 

[0:10:07.0] GM: My gosh, here we go, okay. The adaptive sports program, that’s too boring. What I’ve realized the last – I’ve been saying this a lot already but I have. The last couple of years, specifically in this country, we talk a lot about depression. This is kind of deep but it’s real. We talk a lot about depression, anxiety, and something that breaks my heart is loneliness.

 

Not just like people with disabilities. This is a people problem. Rich people, poor people, white, black, brown, everybody. I think, we talk about this depression and anxiety but what are we doing about it? Now, for the kids in our program, I’m not speaking on behalf of everybody on our program. This is what I really think what Game Changers is all about.

 

I’m not speaking for every kid in our program but for a lot of kids, through communication with parents and kids, they don’t have a lot outside of school, outside of church, they don’t have a lot of support out there for them. They don’t have somewhere where they belong. Imagine going through life and you don’t belong to something outside of school and church.

 

That’s everybody’s going through that right now. Not everybody, there are a lot of people going through that right now and are lost. We, at Game Changers, we want to make this program a normal thing for these kids. Rarely on our social media pages do we do special needs, we rarely use that for kids, we talk about kids. 

 

This is a program for these kids where they belong. If it’s a Monday and they had a bad day, they know, “I have CrossFit on Friday, I have my friends at, they know who I’m at, I have that to look forward to.” Imagine not having anything to look forward to. That is so sad right there. We’re a program now that we are offering this sense of belongingness. Everybody in the world needs that. That’s who we are at Game Changers. Specifically for this population, and volunteers. 

 

We have a lot of people who are volunteers that are lonely too. Not all of them, I’m not speaking on all of them but we do. I feel good here, this is where I’m at with myself too. We’re going to grow. I really do feel like that’s who we are at Game Changers. We’re this program that people belong to on a consistent basis.

 

[0:12:11.7] RH: Let’s talk about your volunteers. You have kiddos with special needs, you have kiddos without special needs, you have just a mixture and you bring them altogether so well. I feel like the program is so much more than just an adaptive sports league for these kiddos with different abilities but it’s for the kiddos who are “typically developing” because they get so much out of it.

 

[0:12:33.8] GM: No, they do. We have a ton of peer mentors. Kids that have been in our program for about three or four years now and they started out as teammates and they come in, you’re in, you're out. A lot of them don’t have siblings in the program, they just like helping, like mine. It’s really cool to see them grow and they’re taking on leadership positions in Game Changers too, they’re becoming coaches.

 

They’re becoming one-on-one. There’s this girl in our program. We give her some of our toughest kids, some of our kids that need and require the most help. She’s so good at connecting with these kids and she wants to be. It’s like, “No, no, give me. Yeah, I can help him, I can help him.” It’s really cool seeing that but it all starts from, let’s start as a teammate and then let’s watch it grow. She’s just an example of the many other kids in our program. Imagine what they’re going to do as adults.

 

[0:13:18.4] RH: That's what I was just going to say, OT in the making, right?

 

[0:13:21.6] GM: Yeah, I told these kids, you don’t have to serve this population but you have the heart to help people in general. That’s so – that’s a good feeling that we’re going to be able to have these programs with these kids and these adults helping people.

 

[0:13:36.3] RH: I love that. I mean, you hear these stories of how, typically, who are we – we’re talking about Christy the other day on the podcast, Christy Brewer, and she was talking about how kids would go to the grocery store and then she wants them to ask questions and say, “Hey, what do you think? Why does your kid not talk, why does your kiddo do this?” Instead of people hushing away and not saying anything or not looking, just like, have an open conversation.

 

I feel like your program does such a good job of making that conversation comfortable and normal and acceptable. They’re just kids. They’re just kids. They’re all just kids and they’re all different. That’s great, that’s beautiful.

 

[0:14:17.6] GM: These peer mentors and these volunteers, they’re learning how to adapt to these kids too because not just their diagnosis but it’s, “What’s her temperament?” They’ll say. What set him off earlier today, you know? All of our volunteers are aware of the kids like, you know, “Did they have a bad day today? How do we adapt you?”

 

A lot of our volunteers are really good with that, we have a ton of volunteers that just simply understand these kids. That is a powerful asset right there.

 

[0:14:44.5] RH: That’s a blessing, yeah.

 

[0:14:46.4] GM: To simply understand. That’s something every parent, I think, wants for people to have. Yeah, it’s pretty cool.

 

[0:14:54.5] RH: Typically in that program [inaudible 0:14:55.7].

 

[0:14:57.0] GM: Heck yeah, I’m so excited for that. It’s cool, yeah, that’s awesome.

 

[0:15:00.4] JH: We were talking a little bit before about how, in our first interview, Game Changers wasn’t even a thing yet, or it was but tell us about that, tell us how it’s changed since then.

 

[0:15:11.7] GM: Since our first interview, we weren’t even an official non-profit. 

 

[0:15:14.7] JH: That’s what it was.

 

[0:15:14.7] GM: Yeah, two weeks after our first interview, we became an official non-profit and with that, that just means I’m able to bring in money, people are able to donate. We’re able to go for the grants and find sponsorships and whatnot. 

 

Since then, we were [inaudible 0:15:27], that was it. I knew in the back of my mind, once we become an official non-profit, we’re just going to let things unravel, you know? Let things roll at a steady pace. Now, this is going to be world of greats. Now, we have a soccer program and this isn’t just a one time thing, these are week in, week out seasonal programs. We have a soccer program, we have a CrossFit program for our older kids and it’s a beautiful program.

 

We have a gymnastics program for our younger kids and all of our programs fit specific kids too. Our older kids, older guys, they don’t want to do gymnastics but our younger kids, boys and girls, they like gymnastics, CrossFit is too much for them. We have a fencing program.

 

[0:16:07.8] JH: That’s cool.

 

[0:16:07.9] GM: How insane is that? It was amazing and it was so perfect for the kids that wanted to do it. We just started a golf program, and again, it was so appropriate for some of the kids and I’m going to feed off of this a little bit. We have a program called Little Game Changers for three to five years old. It’s quarterly and we bring in kids three to five and we do very adaptive, very modified drills. Every kid has a one-on-one, my best volunteers are here. It is – they are little squirrels running around, I love it.

 

[0:16:41.0] RH: What did you say? You can’t control chaos?

 

[0:16:42.6] GM: Controlled chaos, yeah, everyone says it’s controlled and I’m like, “Okay, but it’s chaos.” That just means, I always think you can always do better. It was good but what can we work on next time? That’s a good introduction for parents to Game Changers, that way when your kid hits five years of age, they can enter one of our programs and we’re seeing that now. The kids that started in Little Game Changers, they just signed up for soccer and [inaudible 0:17:04.8] it’s really cool, yeah, that’s really awesome. I hope I’m not missing on anything.

 

[0:17:10.1] RH: No, I was just going to say what has changed is you have had the opportunity to learn and grow other sensory needs too. You’ve listened to one or two of our podcasts and you’ve learned how to implement different sensory activities to make the sports in the programs even better and go smoother.

 

[0:17:27.9] GM: Fencing is a really good example of that. In fencing, you’re having to put a helmet on but for some of these kids it’s actually good, it’s like, “Oh no one can see me,” and it’s really cool. In fencing, there’s all this beeping. When you get hit, a beeping sound goes off and in my mind I was like, “Okay, what’s this going to look like when we get it?”

 

I’m just going to – for me, I’m going to adjust and I’m going to be aware of these kids and a lot of them were uncomfortable but I think what it was is they were in an environment that they chose to be at. It’s one of those things where it’s a give and take. I’m willing to go through these beeping noises because they’re fixated on it but I want to be here so I’m willing to work through this.

 

[0:18:07.7] RH: Modulate and push through.

 

[0:18:08.5] GM: Yeah, it’s really cool.

 

[0:18:10.7] JH: That motivation is so powerful for kids.

 

[0:18:13.1] GM: Yeah, it is. Yeah, it is and they got a sword in their hand. 

 

[0:18:20.9] RH: They have helmets, everything’s swell.

 

[0:18:23.4] JH: I could just imagine.

 

[0:18:24.4] GM: It’s really so appropriate though. With gymnastics, that’s another great program where we have a kid that tried soccer, it didn’t work for him too much. Flag football, not even close but the moment he started gymnastics, he was in love with everything. The way that the ground felt for him, there’s a foam pit, balancing beams, everything, the trampolines, obviously. He was in love with this place.

 

This is his second year coming in and he came in without his mom and this was his place, you know? Everything is just so appropriate for him.

 

[0:18:59.9] RH: Good for the family for not giving up and saying, “We tried football, we tried soccer, it didn’t work, that’s okay, keep trying,” and look what happened and they found something.

 

[0:19:09.4] GM: That’s something we want to offer at Game Changers, it’s giving these parents options.

 

[0:19:13.0] JH: Yeah.

 

[0:19:14.5] GM: Something that’s appropriate for your kid and something that we’re really proud that we can do.

 

[0:19:19.2] JH: Do your programs go from like January, February? Can you have a breakdown of when your programs – 

 

[0:19:25.3] GM: Flag football is seven to eight weeks in the fall and spring, gymnastics is spring and summer, we’re still in it right now. Golf just started now, it’ll go for eight weeks, soccer will be late summer, early fall, CrossFit, winter, spring and fencing is spring as well. Yeah.

 

[0:19:45.9] RH: What about basketball, didn’t you do basketball?

 

[0:19:48.1] GM: That’s our school program actually. We’ve been getting special education programs and peer mentors in that school to represent their schools in sports. I said this in the last podcast, I know, but this is something I truly believe where we’ve been seeing these viral videos of a kid with a disability, he’s probably like a popular one at school, shoot a basket, score a touchdown and it goes viral.

 

It’s a good moment, cool, good for you, good for the family, good for the crowd, but what about all the other 19 kids in the special education class? And you’ll often hear, “They didn’t want to play.” Were they asked, were they ever offered?

 

You have those kids that wear their shirt three days in a row, they have messy hair, they’re the quiet one, were they offered this? We have this program where an entire special education program could play an entire basketball game and the entire crowd, the school is there to support and it’s so cool.  We do basketball and flag football with the school programs. That’s a beautiful program too. Yeah.

 

[0:20:45.9] JH: So cool. You do it all.

 

[0:20:47.4] GM: We’re trying to be consistent and yeah, we can do a lot more.

 

[0:20:50.8] RH: Yeah.

 

[0:20:51.8] JH: Do You get volunteers coming in to teach these specific sports and teach those specific skills?

 

[0:20:56.6] GM: Yeah, good question. Each program has a director. CrossFit, I don’t know CrossFit but a friend of mine, she knows CrossFit and we use her members to be volunteers. She leads CrossFit, I’m there to help adapt things and if there is a kid that needs extra attention, I’m able to step in. 

 

Gymnastics, I don’t know gymnastics but there’s a director there for Game Changers and she is a special education teacher as well. She has a sense of what these kids need and I supply the volunteers to do one-on-one for the kids that need it. Fencing, don’t know fencing, there’s a director. I’m there, volunteers.

 

Golf, don’t know golf, so “What am I doing Gabe?” I know. I’m always there though for kids that need that extra attention. I’m able to help volunteers work with a specific kid. I’m just making sure everything is smooth so the director can just coach. Then flag football, that’s my baby, that will always be my baby. I’m the coach, but we also have other coaches for our other teams there. Yeah, that’s the really cool part is just seeing all these directors take action. Yeah, it’s awesome.

 

[0:22:00.1] RH: You just gave them that independence and they just run with it. 

 

[0:22:02.9] GM: Our mission statement at Game Changers and I love it. It’s not even about kids with disabilities. It’s, “To find those who seek to spread goodness so others may be fulfilled.” We’re finding people in our community, it’s like, “Hey, I can do more, this is what I have, could you use this at Game Changers?” I was like, “Absolutely.” I don’t’ say yes to everybody, I’m going to – I had to pace myself and they say, timing – 

 

[0:22:25.8] RH: Timing is everything?

 

[0:22:26.6] GM: Yeah, some people are like, “Don’t use it as an excuse,” I’m going to use that as an excuse because this is a full-time job for me. I’m a volunteer. Game Changers grows as much as I grow and I’m going to pace myself because I’m not here to prove anything. It’s like, “Oh we’re doing this now, we’ll do this now.” I want to make sure what we’re doing is appropriate, it’s in good hands and then we’ll take that next step.

 

[0:22:47.1] RH: You kind of let the chips fall where they may. You just kind of wait for opportunities to just fall into your lap and you know whether they’re the right ones. You’re not out there pushing and finding and seeking, it’s just like, this will come when it’s time and that’s the beauty of it.

 

[0:23:00.7] GM: I’m a very patient person, I know that it annoys some people, but I’m a very patient person and I know I’m very optimistic too. Things will work out. It’s a lot of work obviously, I’m not going to be like, “I hope so.” But no, with the support from the right people, I want to work with really good people too. I think we’ve all had working environments where it’s just been a struggle and toxic and it’s like – you know? That feeling? 

 

I started Game Changers, I want to do it, I don’t know if there’s a right way but I want to do it as close as possible. Finding really good people, doing it as good as we can with good intentions, making a good impact.

 

[0:23:37.4] RH: Do you see Game Changers expanding beyond Idaho?

 

[0:23:41.2] GM: I don’t, no. I thought about that, I don’t even see it expanding out Treasure Valley. Once that happens, that takes me out of my position to be in the thick of things and I’m more so overseeing things, that’s a big deal, that’s a lot. I lied, there’s always going to be kids here that need this program and I want it to be – I want the quality to be really well here. I don’t have to prove things and say, “Oh we’re over here now, where north of Idaho,” I don’t need to do that. I want to make sure it’s really good in the Treasure Valley.

 

[0:24:16.2] RH: What happens when people come to you and they’re like, “Gabe, come on, let’s move this, let’s get it all over the world.”

 

[0:24:21.9] GM: I don’t need to do that. I don’t need to.

 

[0:24:24.3] JH: Would you say something like, “No, you go ahead and start it in your town.”

 

[0:24:28.5] GM: Yup, if you want me to come over and I’ll spend a couple of days with you, buy me some coffee, good enough for breakfast and we’ll chitchat on what I did and if you want to do it under your own name, absolutely, yeah. I’m not going to be selfish. I could help you but people can do this, how badly do you want to do it, right?

 

I’ve been willing to do this for free for three years now because I love it and I know what the future is with this. If you're willing to do that, go for it. If your heart’s not into it, maybe go volunteer somewhere.

 

[0:24:58.2] JH: Yeah, I just think it would be so cool for this type of program to be in all cities.

 

[0:25:03.9] GM: Yeah, it would be, yeah. 

 

[0:25:05.3] JH: Like you said, it is a lot of work.

 

[0:25:07.6] GM: Yeah, I don’t want to be someone that just oversees. I want to always make sure this is a well-oiled machine in and out. There’s good people everywhere. Hopefully someone will take the leap and do it themselves.

 

[0:25:20.4] RH: If anyone listening to this podcast wants to do this, feel free to give Gabe a call.

[0:25:25.9] GM: A cup of coffee, I’m cheap. Coffees and breakfast at an old diner.

 

[0:25:30.7] JH: Yeah, old men. 

 

[0:25:32.3] JH: No laptops, no computers, no phones.

 

[0:25:36.4] GM: Take out your notebook, let’s go to work. What’s your favorite quote?

 

[SPONSOR MESSAGE]

 

[0:25:42.1] RH: We just want to take a minute and talk to you about our company Harkla. Our mission at Harkla is to help those with special needs live happy, healthy lives. Not only do we accomplish this through the podcast but we also have therapy products, easy to follow digital courses and the Harkla Sensory Club, to try to bring holistic care to you and your family.

 

[0:25:59.4] JH: Listeners of the All Things Sensory Podcast get 10% off their first purchase at Harkla with the discount code “sensory.” We’d recommend checking out some of our bestsellers like the compression sensory swing, weighted blankets or our course on sensory diets. 

 

[0:26:14.7] RH: Here’s the best part, one percent of each sale gets donated to the University of Washington Autism Center to support autism research and fund scholarships to families in need to receive in-clinic therapy for their child. 

 

[0:26:27.0] JH: Learn more about Harkla and all we have to offer at harkla.co, that’s harkla.co and don’t forget to use the discount code “sensory” to get 10% off your first purchase. That’s “sensory” for 10% off. 

 

[0:26:48.6] RH:And the best part is all Harkla orders come with a lifetime guarantee and free shipping. 

 

[0:26:55.3] JH: You really can’t beat that. 

 

[0:26:56.3] RH: No. 

 

[0:26:57.2] JH: No you can’t. Okay, let’s go back to the show. 

 

[DISCUSSION CONTINUED]

 

[0:27:02.3] RH: All right, so I know that you have a lot of special moments that are meaningful to you. Why don’t you share your favorite moment, or like the most pivotal moment that’s happened?

 

[0:27:13.8] GM: Can I do two of mine?

 

[0:27:16.3] RH: Yes, of course. 

 

[0:27:18.0] JH: No, you can only do one. 

 

[0:27:19.1] GM: One of them is, I kind of briefly talked about it already, is when I am able to sit back through all of our programs, when I am able to sit back and things are running so smoothly and I’m like, “Wow, this is growth right here with Game Changers.” When directors are doing their own, they’re in the zone and volunteers are just vibing with their kids that they’re working with. That is like, “Man, this is it,” you know? This is that next step. 

 

As much as I would love being involved, if I am able to take a step back and things are running smoothly that’s – 

 

[0:27:50.5] RH: Do you just get goosebumps? 

 

[0:27:51.8] GM: Yeah, it’s a special moment and in fact, football specifically this year, after about the third week getting into the groove of things because we had to take a pause because of COVID. We missed two seasons because of COVID. We came back and all the coaches, even my team, I had a kid who worked in my own team, I took a step back and I am just watching on the sideline and it’s such a beautiful moment because usually I am all over the place and then a parent came up to me and she said, “You’re not out there,” and she said it with a smile on her face because she knew. 

 

I was like, “I know, how cool is this?” and then she looked and she’s got this big smile on her face and that is just growth right there. That’s when you know you’re doing it right. Now, I will step in if I do need to step in. And then finding programs with kids that struggle, you could just see, again, I talked to you about the loneliness, you know? There are lots of kids that are hesitant coming to Game Changers and that’s fine but then after a while, you see them come in and they’re so confident and they belong. 

 

You could see that, you know? I’m not going to be like, “Hey bud, you belong here.” I am not going to do that, you know? But you can just see it. We have kids that do CrossFit and they were super hesitant in the week and they did it though. They came to golf last night and they were laughing and these are things that I remember. They were laughing, they were talking to kids that were brand new that got on the same subject and started laughing. 

 

Those are the things that I notice. Again, I am not saying they’re not laughing outside, you know? I’m sure they’re laughing, they’re capable of laughing everywhere. It’s not just because of Game Changers but it is just really cool to see where they started and just how comfortable they are now with other kids and there’s lots of little moments like that and just seeing kids in gymnastics, last year they all had a long one and this year in gymnastics, we have a brand new set of kids. 

 

We started with 13 last year, we have 28 this year. Those kids from last year, maybe one of them we did one-on-one. They’re like the varsity kids now. They go and they do the routine, they listen to the coaches and it’s the new kids that we give volunteers for now but it is really cool to see just that very year, these kids take that next step. Now, these are eight, nine-year-olds in gymnastics. Imagine what they’re going to do when they’re 13, 14 or 15, right? Those are just really good moments. Another thing is seeing parents bring in their kids.

 

[0:30:07.9] JH: No, I know that you’re going to say that. I love this one.

 

[0:30:11.2] GM: Yeah, it’s when parents bring in their kids and they’re about five or six years old and we’re really patient with those kids. We just want to give this parent a break. In life, my parents, people gave my parents a break and helped us. I want to be able to pass that on. Giving these kids or these parents a break is like, “Hey, no. It’s okay, we can help your kid,” and then seeing the kid is so happy and comfortable and they are five or six-years-old and I always tell the parents that it’s going to be cool seeing these kids grow up at sports. They’ve never had that before. 

 

I know they are only five or six and lots of kids don’t have that but they have a program now that they want, and I love talking to these parents and telling them that. That’s why these parents know that hey, there is a program and a place for your kid. Lots of these kids are really hard, they really are. There is a certain amount that need good attention and we’re happy to be that growth and that can offer that. 

 

It’s just connecting with parents, letting them know that, “Your kid is fine.” It is good. I know they have been scared away in other programs. 

 

[0:31:06.5] RH: Or they have been kicked out of school or they got kicked out of daycare.

 

[0:31:09.6] GM: Yeah, I know. 

 

[0:31:09.7] JH: They don’t have friends. 

 

[0:31:11.4] GM: Yeah. I’m glad you said that because that is something that I hear a lot too and that’s not for every kid, again, but there are situations where that’s happened. If we’ve got a kid in high school, kicked out of Boy Scouts and it’s not on him. It’s just people can’t connect to him. We hold him to high standards but he does every sport with us, he’s a good kid. 

 

[0:31:30.1] RH: Well, it is just so cool like you were saying earlier to see these kiddos be able to hold on to a conversation with another peer after they’ve been in the program. I mean that is a skill that we try to teach in OT and to not have someone facilitating that conversation, “Hey, how’s your day? What are you doing? What do you like most about this board?” Just to be able to laugh and have a good time and facilitate that communication. 

 

[0:31:51.4] GM: If we are able to offer these little emotions, as a plugin, we are not some big fancy program. We are going to focus on little moments like what you just said right there and we’re going to feed off of that. If a kid left happy from Game Changers, that’s a success right there and that’s who we are. We’re simple but we're going to feed off of that. 

 

[0:32:10.6] RH: It’s so good. 

 

[0:32:13.5] JH: Okay, so talk to us about what motivates you every day. 

 

[0:32:17.9] GM: Okay, I mentioned Bob Goff and Scott Harrison. I don’t know if you are familiar with them yet, providing wells in third-world countries to make sure there is clean water. There’s a lot of really cool people doing lots of really good things out there not because – well, it is a job for them now but it didn’t start out that way. They found this project that made them really happy and they are doing a lot of good out there. 

 

I don’t need to go out to all these countries and do all of these things but it is finding these really cool people doing it simply because they want to. Man, that is cool right there. That is so awesome. I want to be that person right there but I am just going to do it here, you know? Something that motivates me too is I read a lot of books about like the Holocaust actually, and seeing what these people – this is something that amazes me, seeing what these people have gone through. Man, we got it good in life. 

 

[0:33:11.1] GM: Even right now, even during COVID, I know we gotta wear masks, but don’t worry about it. We got it good. And I always compare my life to people in the past and it’s like, “Aw Gabe, don’t be a baby,” you know? That’s hard for everybody, it is harder for others. This is like a reflection, you know? It is when I sit back and just don’t do everything, I just do one little thing. [inaudible 0:33:33.5] that. 

 

I think about those people that went through that time period, that’s hard, you know? If I can’t motivate myself to reply to an email, my gosh, I’ve seen that people don’t email very often and that’s annoying but yeah, that is something that I reflect on quite a bit. I think it is simple, it’s small things like that, yeah. 

 

[0:33:54.2] JH: I was just going to say probably all of those little moments too, seeing those kids come back happy and improved. That is motivating. 

 

[0:34:01.5] GM: Yeah, I feed off of that. There is a good quote actually, I love my quotes. 

 

[0:34:05.4] JH: I know. Wait, I remember you have a quote book. 

 

[0:34:08.7] GM: Yep, it’s in my backpack. 

 

[0:34:09.8] JH: I remember the quotes. 

 

[0:34:11.7] GM: No, that motivates me too. All of these, don’t get me started on the journal. I got some conversation outside but a quote in my journal is, “When you feel like you’re in a funk, pause and reflect and think about one kid in your program that your work makes a positive impact on, just one kid,” and I do that quite a bit. There’s lots of our kids on our program that like you said, are getting kicked out. There’s lots of our kids on our program and I know this for sure, not every kid, but they don’t have somewhere they belong. 

 

I know that, I’m talking to parents. They tell me, “They have experiences here and here and here, but why are they so good here?” It’s those kids that when things are kind of funky, I sit and I was like, “Okay, what I’m doing right now, how does this make a positive impact on this one kid’s life?” and that is one kid, times that by 300, right? This is an impact I am able to make here in these kids’ lives, so that is something that I think about quite often. Just thinking about one kid and it’s a powerful thing and I think everybody can do that too. Teachers can do that, therapists can do that. 

 

[0:35:17.1] RH: I like how you said, I mean so many people focus on, you get a bad email, you got a bad message, you get a bad review and that’s all you for some reason think about when there’s so many good things happening around you and so many positive comments and so many positive reviews.Let’s focus on those. You got a bad review, so you got a bad comment about something or a kid has a bad day and it’s one day. It’s one thing. There are so many big powerful amazing things that happen that overpower and overshadow all the real things that aren’t great. 

 

[0:35:45.8] GM: What’s cool about this program and myself too with this program, is this program, our main population is serving the special needs population but this program is more about life in general. I am not kidding you, this is something that we really do need to think about. I mean that separates us from other programs that are familiar to us. A question I get a lot is, you’re going to love it is, “Well, what’s different than other adaptive sports programs?” 

 

I think that is a question you have, right? Yeah and I love that question. It’s like, “Well, our program, how we’re different is, every coffee shop, are they the same?” Every brewery, are they the same? What’s the one thing they all have in common? They serve coffee, the breweries they all serve beer. How they serve it is different, how they communicate is different and that’s like who we are too. We serve the same population but how we do it is different. I don’t know where I was going with this, I’m sorry. 

 

[0:36:36.3] RH: No, we were talking about what’s different from your adaptive sports program from maybe like Special Olympics or something. 

 

[0:36:43.2] GM: Well, yeah and the cool part is I’ve had different experiences. I’ve worked with Special Olympics. I’ve had for the last 10 years different experiences in different programs and I have taken bits and pieces and this is one of those things like I just wanted to start it myself and do it my own way and that is the really funny part is like again, we can go to any coffee shop we want to. Where are you going to pick? What’s a coffee shop that you go to? Is there a specific one? 

 

[0:37:06.6] RH: I mean I do like Starbucks. 

 

[0:37:09.4] GM: Yeah? Why do you like Starbucks? Is it just the coffee in general or? 

 

[0:37:13.0] RH: It’s not too sweet, yeah. 

 

[0:37:14.2] GM: Yeah, okay so it’s coffee in general. People go to breweries because they love the layout of it, they love the music, they love the environment, yeah and they go to that. For us, you know first of all, it’s, why does it have to be only program for this population? That’s really sad actually. One program can’t serve the entire State of Idaho, not even close. We cater to the younger population, and that’s what we focus on but how we talk to parents, how we email, how do we work with our partners, everything is completely different and that’s something I do offer with this. 

 

Again, I just want to start to have a really good program, do it, not in a better way, just in a different way. You know, everything we do is not comparing to do better. It’s just to make it different and what is something that we’re really good at that we can focus on. 

 

[0:38:02.8] RH: Definitely life experiences and put it into this fantastic program. 

 

[0:38:07.3] GM: Yeah, so I get that question a lot and I love it. I mean that’s like, well – 

 

[0:38:12.3] RH: I like the coffee shop analogy though. 

 

[0:38:14.1] GM: Yeah, exactly. 

 

[0:38:14.8] JH: I think that’s so true. 

 

[0:38:17.4] RH: I know we’ve talked a little bit about a potential book down the road. I had to bring that up. So, fill us in, what’s next, what’s on the horizon, what are you working on that you’re excited about?

 

[0:38:29.9] GM: I’ve put the book on pause, okay?

 

[0:38:32.2] RH: I think it is such a good idea. 

 

[0:38:34.5] GM: I have this in mind to write a children’s book actually but in a different way. That is actually more seeking towards the refugee population. Yeah, that is more seeking towards the students that I work with. Can I touch up on how we’re different again real quick? 

 

[0:38:46.8] RH: Yes. 

 

[0:38:47.4] GM: It came around Christmas time, coupona. 

 

[0:38:50.1] RH: Yes. 

 

[0:38:51.1] GM: Coupona is a word in Swahili that says to give, how we’re different, again, this is not about a program helping kids with special needs okay? This is about helping people. Around Christmas time, there are some programs like you know, “Oh donate a gift bag basket to our kids with disability.” You know, lots of our families are fine. They’re financially fine, they’re good. There is a population in Boise that does need a lot of help. We’re, per capita I think, second in the US with the number of refugees and yeah – 

 

[0:39:19.3] RH: Interesting. 

 

[0:39:20.0] GM: They are a population that really definitely need help especially around the holidays, so what we did, this is how we’re different, okay? I love it, so we told parents, we gave them our – 

 

[0:39:32.5] RH: Of your program. 

 

[0:39:33.3] GM: Of our program, we gave the, there are 80 kids in our program, in our bridge program, they all could use a helping hand. We challenged our Game Changer families, we gave them a list of items that the kids in our bridge program that could use and we told the families, “Hey, we want your kids to do chores around the house. Just like sports, if they’re able to drive [0:39:57] vacuum, push your kid to what they can do, make them earn the money. Here is a shopping list of what these refugee families could use, have them go out and shop.”

 

Now for other kids, it’s different. Maybe you pick out the toothbrush and then you have them pick one. For other kids, they could do it on their own, right? It’s different for everybody, we know that. Have your kids wrap up these gifts, okay? Here is a little note card, whom they’re helping, where they’re from, what they like. We’re putting these kids in a position where they are able to help another person in need. 

 

How often do they get to do it, right? On our social media pages, we didn’t – I am saying that now, I don’t care, it’s a podcast it’s good. Our social media pages, we didn’t say that. We didn’t brag about it in a way that said, “Oh, we’re helping refugee families. Look at us now.” We didn’t say that but we did say that we had our Game Changer app that’s helping people with need. Again, we all need help and again, growing up my parents and my dad dropped out of high school. 

 

Mom barely graduated high school, hard workers, but they needed help around the holidays but they never asked for help and I remember vividly, somebody provided Christmas gifts for us and without us knowing and we woke up one Christmas morning where we didn’t think we were going to have gifts, boom, gifts. You know, food, clothes, beanies, sweatshirts, your basic toys. And I remember that moment and that feeling and I remember how my parents felt too. 

This is us like, “Oh, we have this, we’re in a position where we’re able to help families like that too,” okay? Oh man, it was so cool. I, at my house, I have a Christmas tree, I had a fire going on and the families dropped all the Christmas gifts, okay? The refugee kids didn't know about these either, so then on Christmas eve morning, I had a bunch of volunteers and we went out and delivered the gifts and whatnot and that is so cool right there, you know? 

 

Again, we didn’t tell anybody on social media that we are helping refugee families but we did tell the people that signed up for this who they were helping. The feedback I got from the parents was, “Thank you for not making my kid the special needs kid that gets a gift because he has down syndrome.” “Thank you for putting my kid in a position where we are able to lecture them about helping other people.” Because how often do they get that, right? 

 

[0:42:00.9] RH: They don’t, they’re always the one in need. 

 

[0:42:03.5] JH: Yeah and you are teaching these kids how to help other people so they can do it the rest of their lives. 

 

[0:42:08.4] GM: Yeah and that’s such a – and again, how does it feel when you help other people? It feels good. And then when we dropped off the gifts, we texted that family a Christmas video just of voices and it was voices of the kids, our students, saying Merry Christmas in their language. 

 

[0:42:22.5] JH: I’m going to cry. 

 

[0:42:23.6] RH: I know, I was thinking the same thing. 

 

[0:42:26.4] GM: How cool is that? That is who we are as a program right there, it really is. We served 80 kids. When we first started this idea, we were thinking, “Okay, maybe 10 kids?” and then a teacher that’s our board member, she’s like, “Hey, let’s try to do 80.” I’m like, “Okay, let’s do this.” And we got all 80 kids covered and they wrapped each gift. It wasn’t just one big box. They wrapped up like a big box and then in the big box were just like 20 different Christmas presents. 

 

[0:42:52.0] RH: Oh and they all –

 

[0:42:52.7] GM: With that feeling, you get that feeling of opening up Christmas gifts, right? It’s a great feeling, right? All of these parents understood that, so every one of our kids is opening up a bunch of gifts. Yeah, it was pretty cool and you want to talk about things that motivate me? Moments like that right there. That’s something that is going to be an annual thing and I hope that grows too. You know, besides the refugee population, there are homeless that we can help out. Just dropping off a simple gift, you know? These kids can help, we can put these kids in a position to help. That’s who we are at Game Changers, besides sports. 

 

[0:43:26.7] RH: Mike drop. 

 

[0:43:27.8] JH: I’m crying. It’s fine. 

 

[0:43:29.0] GM: Yeah, it’s really cool and I’m just happy to be in a position where I am able to do that too. Again, that makes me feel good, whatever makes me feel good. 

 

[0:43:35.8] RH: You’re so selfish, geez. 

 

[0:43:37.0] GM: I know. Well, yeah so that’s pretty cool.

 

[0:43:42.2] RH: Wow, yeah. 

 

[0:43:43.0] JH: Okay, so we were talking about a book.

 

[0:43:45.1] GM: Oh yeah, a book. That will be in the future, maybe in the future, yeah. 

 

[0:43:49.6] RH: A children’s book though. 

[0:43:51.3] GM: A children’s book where I would love to – hey, if anybody on that is listening and you want to feed off of this – no, I don’t want to say it, what if someone steals my idea? 

 

[0:44:00.2] JH: Oh yeah, that’s true. 

 

[0:44:01.1] RH: True. 

 

[0:44:01.7] JH: Keep it a secret. 

 

[0:44:03.1] JH: Keep it a secret. 

 

[0:44:04.4] GM: Keep it a secret right? Move on. 

 

[0:44:06.4] RH: That is in the works, okay. Well, let’s then just wrap up and say where can people find you and work with you? We have a lot of local families who listen. Are you accepting new clients? 

 

[0:44:18.2] GM: Yes. When we got out of COVID, we had to put a limitation on a lot of things but I feel like a lot of our programs, we can only take so much, but they can find us on Facebook and Instagram. You can message us on our website and our program is free for all of our families too. We encourage donations but, you know, again, this is giving parents a break. For a lot of these parents, hey don’t know if this program will fit their kid. 

 

Rather than asking us let’s just say $25 is it worth, it if it doesn’t work out? So rather than worrying about any finances, we just wipe it and a lot of them end up donating of their own anyway. Yeah, they can find us on social media and our website. 

 

[0:44:57.9] RH: If someone does want to donate and should donate, is that done through your website? 

 

[0:45:03.6] GM: That is done through our website, yeah. There’s options on that, yep. 

[0:45:07.3] RH: Perfect, I love it. 

 

[0:45:09.0] JH: What’s one piece of advice that you have for the listeners?

 

[0:45:12.9] GM: A majority of your listeners are parents, huh? 

 

[0:45:15.4] JH: It’s a pretty good mix of parents, therapists, there are some educators. 

 

[0:45:21.4] GM: Okay, oh man, okay.

 

[0:45:22.8] RH: It is a pretty good mix.

 

[0:45:23.5] GM: Giving parents some advice, again, I got a dog. 

 

[0:45:27.0] RH: I think you’ve given more parenting advice than you knew that you could. 

 

[0:45:30.7] GM: Something I tell my students a lot is just to slow down. I am really worried about this generation, these cellphones, I’m really worried about that. I tell my kids and maybe you could tell your kids this too, you know just to slow down. Put your cell phone away for 15 minutes, learn to sit and do nothing. I’m being real. 

 

[0:45:52.9] RH: Our kids can’t do that. 

 

[0:45:53.8] GM: Our kids can’t do that. I hope, okay, I will give your parents some advice. 

 

[0:45:57.7] JH: Yep, they are encouraging this. 

 

[0:45:59.6] GM: Well, I tell my students this, you know? Just learn to just – we do a little bit of yoga every day. Not yoga, my bad, meditation, every day, with our students and you know, three quarters of them really like how it makes them feel and they say that, “I feel good.” It’s like yeah, you chose to do that too, you know? 

[0:46:17.4] RH: What about the other quarter? 

 

[0:46:18.3] GM: I don’t know, being a brat. They’re being stubborn. 

 

[0:46:22.1] RH: They’re too cool to meditate. I almost said medication. Okay, scratch that. They’re too cool for medi – watch it. Okay, let’s try it again, those are the kiddos who are too cool for meditation.

 

[0:46:35.4] GM: Yeah, that is what it is though but I know for me, I just learn to slow life down. It looks like we are doing a lot in Game Changers and people are like, “Oh you’re so busy.” I choose to do it though. No one is forcing me to do it, I choose to do it but I also know when to slow down. It’s been a while since I’ve been stressed because when I do feel into it, I’ll just slow things down on my own and I’ll pause. If I am done for the day, I’m done for the day. I don’t have to prove anything. 

 

[0:46:58.1] RH: That is such good advice. 

 

[0:46:59.6] JH: It is good advice for everyone. 

 

[0:47:01.3] GM: Slow down people, yeah really. 

 

[0:47:03.4] RH: Put your phone away, put your computer away, sit next to the old man at the coffee shop. I feel like I’ve learned so much.

 

[0:47:11.0] GM: I would make that into a book. Old man at the Coffee Shop. 

 

[0:47:14.1] RH: Yes. 

 

[0:47:14.9] GM: Yeah, okay. 

 

[0:47:16.8] JH: That’s a good title. 

[0:47:17.6] GM: Coolest thing right now. 

 

[0:47:20.3] RH: Okay, last thing, do you have any questions for us?

 

[0:47:24.0] GM: What are things that you are seeing on your end, like therapeutic? I know what we’re doing is like a little OT, I know it but I am not educated enough. I mean, give me a couple of examples, I know you said it earlier. 

 

[0:47:35.3] RH: Let’s talk about maybe the golf program since that started last. You know, first thing you have these kiddos communicating and socializing and talking with each other. They have to stay and listen, they have to follow directions, they have to with those hands – 

 

[0:47:51.5] JH: They have to sequence how to put it all together and hit the ball. 

 

[0:47:56.0] RH: They have to use their hands. 

 

[0:47:58.0] RH: Force modulation, you have to have practice to be able to see what you’re doing, come up with a plan, and then execute it but also, well, it was a grounder. “I hit a terrible fault, what can I do differently next?” and that’s a really hard thing to do is to reflect and foresee.

 

[0:48:14.0] JH: Ingest, yeah. 

 

[0:48:14.9] GM: It’s really cool because they are coming in week in and week out. I mean all of our programs, we always end up with a championship. It’s not just a feel good moment. It’s like, “Oh no, you’re going to learn because there is an end goal right here.” You know, we’ll separate the kids into divisions, like competitive and developmental, that way they’re able to compete their fullest potential. That is something that we really love is getting a crowd involved, putting the kid in the center of attention but not just that one kid especially, everybody, and they are all kids. It is as simple as that and they are getting that center of attention. 

 

[0:48:43.4] RH: Well, we’re going to be at your gymnastics meet, the final gymnastic meet so I’m excited about that.

 

[0:48:46.5] GM: That’s going to be cool, yeah. 

 

[0:48:48.1] RH: Cheering everyone on, maybe we’ll make posters too. 

 

[0:48:50.5] GM: Do it, yeah. Harkla is a sponsor for gymnastics and we’re able to have a free program because we find sponsorships like Harkla and many others that help support us financially. 

 

[0:49:02.8] JH: I was just thinking too, the last thing with golf is that they have to really work on a lot of frustration tolerance when – 

 

[0:49:09.5] RH: I was going to say perseverance, yeah. 

 

[0:49:09.5] JH: Yeah, perseverance when it’s hard and when they’re not doing well. 

 

[0:49:13.9] GM: They have support there too. 

 

[0:49:13.9] RH: Not throwing their golf club, breaking it and slamming it over their leg. 

 

[0:49:21.1] JH: It’s going to happen. 

 

[0:49:23.2] RH: Yeah, even just learning the rules of golf, like learning the new rules to follow, you know? 

 

[0:49:28.5] GM: Yeah, it is going to be pretty cool, like let’s say their dad is a golfer and the mom is a golfer, you know in six or seven weeks after they have learned the fundamentals of it, they could take their kid golfing now. How cool is that? 

 

[0:49:37.2] RH: Absolutely, it’s a family event. 

 

[0:49:37.7] GM: Yeah, that’s a pretty good feeling right there, maybe that parent can’t take time to coach their kids because it is a lot. Absolutely, it is, it’s frustrating.

 

[0:49:43.3] JH: Teaching your kid how to do something is a lot to a parent when it’s not your kid. 

 

[0:49:48.5] GM: That’s true actually, yeah, so imagine two parents that are golfers, they could take their kid golfing now because they learned from Game Changers. That is a pretty – again, I love seeing these parents just watch their kids play sports. We’re a sports program but we’re much more than that. We want to offer happiness to the parents too. Be nervous, be excited, be a parent, yeah. 

 

[0:50:08.6] RH: So good. Well, on that note, we are so happy that you came to our podcast studio. 

 

[0:50:13.9] JH: Yep, we’ll interview you again in another three years.

 

[0:50:17.4] GM: Yeah, I know. I’ve got this vision you all, okay? A little bit by little bit we’re getting there, okay? Oh yeah, we’re going to do it. 

 

[0:50:22.9] RH: I just can’t imagine three years from now what you’re going to be doing. 

 

[0:50:26.7] GM: I know, it will be cool. A little bit at a time, we’re doing some pretty cool stuff. 

 

[0:50:31.8] RH: All right, we told you that this episode was going to be fantastic. 

 

[0:50:36.1] JH: And it was. Okay, so we want to make sure that you follow him on social media, Game Changer, is it Game Changers Idaho? 

 

[0:50:43.1] RH: Yes. 

 

[0:50:43.4] JH: Game Changers Idaho on social media, go to the website, make a donation. If you are in the Treasure Valley, make sure you go to some events, volunteer. 

 

[0:50:53.2] RH: Yeah, I know we’re just talking about getting Logan in the program too. 

 

[0:50:55.8] JH: I know, I don’t know why Logan is not involved but he will. 

 

[0:50:57.3] RH: I know, I feel like typical, not typical, wherever you are, whoever you are, get your kiddo in this program if you are local and also leave us a review on iTunes. We would totally appreciate that, just take five seconds, five minutes, however much time you have to share your thoughts with us. 

 

[0:51:14.2] JH: Share this episode with your friends and family and we’ll be back next week. 

 

[0:51:18.5] RH: Okay, bye. 

 

[END OF INTERVIEW]

 

[0:51:20.6] RH: Thank you so much for listening to All Things Sensory by Harkla. If you want more information on anything we mentioned in the show, head over to harkla.co/podcast to get all of the show notes.

 

[0:51:31.8] JH: We always have the show notes and links plus full transcripts to make following along as easy as possible for everyone. If you have follow-up questions, the best place to ask those is in the comments on the show notes, or message us on our Instagram account, which is @harkla_family. If you just search Harkla, you’ll find us. 

 

[0:51:50.9] RH: Like we mentioned before, our podcast listeners get 10% off of their first order at Harkla, whether it is for one of our digital courses, one of our sensory swings, the discount code “sensory” will save you 10%. That code is “sensory.” Head over to harkla.co/sensory to use that code right now so you don’t forget. 

 

[0:52:13.7] JH: We’re so excited to work together to help create confident kids all over the world and work towards a happier, healthier life. 

 

[0:52:20.7] RH: All right, we’ll talk to you guys next week. 

 

[0:52:25.0] JH: Just a friendly reminder: This is general information related to occupational therapy, pediatrics and sensory integration. We do not know you or your child, therefore we do not know any specific needs. Therefore, you should always refer back to your pediatrician and occupational therapist for more information.

 

BORING, BUT NECESSARY LEGAL DISCLAIMERS

While we make every effort to share correct information, we are still learning. We will double check all of our facts but realize that medicine is a constantly changing science and art. One doctor / therapist may have a different way of doing things from another. We are simply presenting our views and opinions on how to address common sensory challenges, health related difficulties and what we have found to be beneficial that will be as evidenced based as possible. By listening to this podcast, you agree not to use this podcast as medical advice to treat any medical condition in either yourself or your children. Consult your child’s pediatrician/ therapist for any medical issues that he or she may be having. This entire disclaimer also applies to any guests or contributors to the podcast. Under no circumstances shall Rachel Harrington, Harkla, Jessica Hill, or any guests or contributors to the podcast, as well as any employees, associates, or affiliates of Harkla, be responsible for damages arising from use of the podcast.

Keep in mind that we may receive commissions when you click our links and make purchases. However, this does not impact our reviews and comparisons. We try our best to keep things fair and balanced, in order to help you make the best choice for you.


This podcast should not be used in any legal capacity whatsoever, including but not limited to establishing “standard of care” in a legal sense or as a basis for expert witness testimony. No guarantee is given regarding the accuracy of any statements or opinions made on the podcast.

Jessica Hill, COTA/L & Rachel Harrington, COTA/L, AC
Jessica Hill, COTA/L & Rachel Harrington, COTA/L, AC

Rachel Harrington, COTA/L, AC and Jessica Hill, COTA/L both Certified Occupational Therapy Assistants (COTA). They have been working with children for over 6 years in outpatient settings. Rachel and Jessica specialize in creating easy-to-digest, actionable content that families can use to help their child's progress at home. Rachel and Jessica are the in-house experts, content creators, and podcast hosts at Harkla! To learn more about Rachel and Jessica, visit the Harkla About Us Page. Make sure to listen to their weekly podcast, All Things Sensory by Harkla for actionable, fun advice on child development.


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