|Annabelle Hopkins researched avenues for the Adaptive Sports Programs of Ohio to diversify its revenue sources this summer.|
Throughout the summer, we're checking in with several returning student-athletes who are partaking in unique experiences relating to student research and internships. Our sixth profile features Annabelle Hopkins, a rising senior from the swimming & diving team.
Earlier this summer, Hopkins was part of a team working with the Adaptive Sports Programs of Ohio (ASPO) through the College's Applied Methods and Research Experience (AMRE). Hopkins' team was tasked with researching legislative opportunities to diversify the organization's revenue sources, with the ultimate goal of assisting ASPO in expanding sports programs for people with physical disabilities.
The political science and history double major zeroed in on handicapped parking ticket revenue as a funding source for ASPO, and actively gathered data from roughly 200 municipalities through cold calling, emails, and public records requests.
"This project was based on Ohio Code 4511.69, which allows for up to 50 percent of the funds accumulated through handicapped parking fines to be directed towards programming similar to those offered by ASPO," explained Hopkins.
Hopkins' focus wasn't just limited to parking tickets, as the Ohio Department of Education, Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicle placards, the Victims of Crime Act, and municipal ordinances were investigated along the way as possible revenue sources and guidance in structuring legislation.
During the research phase, Hopkins also broadened the horizons on the issue, and investigated how adaptive sport programs elsewhere have obtained funding through state legislation.
"Despite decades of efforts to expand opportunities for individuals with disabilities, most states are really behind in guaranteeing basic legislative rights to citizens with physical, intellectual, and developmental disabilities," summed up Hopkins.
Additionally, Hopkins attended meetings with elected officials and local governments to gain a further understanding on the topic, and these interactions will "hopefully lead to fruitful conversations between ASPO and state politicians in the near future," noted Hopkins.
Ultimately, Hopkins' team concluded that a line item in the Ohio biannual budget is the best solution for ASPO, and upon conclusion of the project, the senior prepared a 60-page memorandum containing an official recommendation, a comprehensive analysis of all relevant legislation, and several databases of collected information. Other recommendations included policies at the local and state level pertaining to expanding the rights and opportunities of individuals with disabilities.
"The hard work that went into the project is made well worth it by knowing that our research will help ASPO expand their programming throughout the state," summed up Hopkins. "I am so grateful for this experience, which has given me both a deep understanding of the obstacles citizens with disabilities face every day, and this confirmed my professional interest in policy and politics."
AMRE provides opportunities for Wooster students to apply classroom learning in the role of business and organizational consultants. For eight weeks of the summer, student teams and faculty advisors are paired with a (usually local) business, industry, or agency. Students are exposed to practical applications of their liberal arts education in a "real world" setting. To learn more about the College's AMRE program, visit https://www.wooster.edu/academics/apex/experiential/amre/.