With a new grant from a local foundation, UCSB hopes to provide more physical and recreational activities for the disabled.

The Bialis Family Foundation of Santa Barbara gave UCSB $75,000 in mid-December to establish a recreation program that would serve children and adults with physical and developmental disabilities. Jon Spaventa, director of the UCSB Physical Activities and Recreations Dept., said the money will be used to hire a person to develop programs and to purchase the equipment required for those programs.

“We are extremely grateful to the Bialis family for their generosity and commitment,” Spaventa said in a press release. “Their wonderful gift will allow us to develop a dynamic program of adapted recreation for the greater Santa Barbara community.”

Gary Bialis, president of the Bialis Family Foundation, said UCSB received the grant because of Spaventa’s work at UCSB.

“After considerable review of all of the available options in the community, my wife and I found that Jon Spaventa operates the best sports center in Southern California and the Central Coast,” he said.

The grant is valid for only one year, after which the foundation will review the program’s progress, and if it deems the program successful, the organization will continue to give money to the program. While he said there is a detailed criterion of what the foundation considers a successful program, Bialis said he didn’t want to give specifics. Bialis did say that a successful program is one that has a first-class administrator, widespread community participation and provides a variety of activities not previously available to disabled people in the community.

“We need to demonstrate that we can plan and run a high-quality program for the county,” Spaventa said to the Nexus.

The foundation cannot afford to be the sole donor to the program so other organizations in the county will have to help with funding, Bialis said

“We hope to provide funding for a significant time, but if the program is successful, it will require additional funding from other organizations as well,” Bialis said.

The grant is part of the foundation’s Clara Project, which helps agencies in Santa Barbara County create and expand existing programs that provide opportunities to people with disabilities. The project is named in memory of Gary Bialis’ aunt, who was born with cerebral palsy in the 1920’s. Bialis said his aunt had tremendous mental capabilities, but at the time, people with disabilities were institutionalized.

“The more [my wife and I] learned about Clara’s life, the more we felt compelled to initiate a program such as this for the disabled community,” he said.

In the past, the Santa Barbara Santa Barbara Recreation Dept. planned and organized a weeklong summer wheelchair basketball camp for children that was hosted at UCSB. With this new grant, Spaventa said the university is hoping to shift the responsibility of organizing events and activities from the city to UCSB.

“What we’re trying to do is provide normal activities that these children would otherwise not be able to participate in [because of physical disabilities],” Spaventa said.