Club aims to include, encourage children with physical mobility issues

Founding members of the Tricord Club (from left to right) Ruby Varnado, Andrew Schlumbrecht, and Asher Varnado.

Sherry Richmond-Frank’s desire to impact the lives of children who are born with physical mobility issues started decades ago when her now adult daughter, Jesse, was born with spina bifida.

“The club grew out of my love for her,” the Destrehan resident said of Jesse. “This idea had been brewing for decades.”

Richmond-Frank said she read a lot of information on how to parent a child with a disability and attended several conferences after Jesse was born.

“Since I am a licensed professional counselor and marriage and family therapist, as well as a life coach, I noticed that the reading and conferences spoke of the importance of helping children grow up with meaningful social connections,” Richmond-Frank said. “This club grew out of a desire to use my background to develop a setting for kids to prosper.”

Richmond-Frank began Tricord Club in May 2018. The club’s name comes from Ecclesiastes 4:12 in the Bible, which states “Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not easily broken.”

Tricord Club is a nonprofit organization that aims to helps children with spina bifida, cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy, juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, achondroplasia, amputations, missing limbs, club feet, polio and other mobility challenges grow up to be confident, resilient, independent and contributing members of society.

Richmond-Frank said her goal is that the children who join the club will grow to have meaningful and ongoing relationships and interactions with their peers, the community and God.

“We will begin with an equal number of 5 to 7 year olds with and without disabilities,” Richmond-Frank said. “After the first year we hope to add a section for 3 to 4 year olds.”

By including children both with and without disabilities, Richmond-Frank said her goal is to have the club’s meetings be a place where the children can learn to advocate for one another.

Club members may progress into the next higher age bracket until the age of 18.

“We’re hoping that over the years we can really make a big impact on their lives,” Richmond-Frank said.

The club, which meets at Parkway Presbyterian Preschool in Metairie, congregated for the first time in March 2020, but the pandemic delayed any further meetings until this month.

Richmond-Frank said her plan is for the club to meet two Saturdays a month. In each meeting she hopes to have a speaker or activity to expose participants to a wide variety of interests, include exploration of and provision of service to others, conduct a Bible study and offer play time.

A great deal of planning, work and effort has gone into the club’s formation, Richmond-Frank said, as well as into training the meeting volunteers.

“I train the volunteers that our words and attitudes can build barriers or bridges,” she said. “Language is more powerful than we can imagine, so all of the Tricord Club’s volunteers are trained to use respectful and empowering language with each club member.”

Richmond-Frank added that all volunteers are screened by passing required background checks.

“I want to club to be a place where the kids can get an accurate vision of who they are without stereotypes,” she said. “We’re trying to help the kids develop habits of self-power and that they’re capable and confident.”

The club is free, but registration is required. To learn more or sign up, visit www.tricord.club or call 504-473-7871. The club also maintains Facebook and Instagram pages.

 

About Monique Roth 353 Articles
Roth has both her undergraduate and graduate degree in journalism, which she has utilized in the past as an instructor at Southeastern Louisiana University and a reporter at various newspapers and online publications. She grew up in LaPlace, where she currently resides with her husband and three daughters.

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