About Shared Adventures
Founded in 1994 by Foster Andersen, a survivor of a spinal cord injury with quadriplegia, Shared Adventures has provided hundreds of life-enriching recreational and social activities for people with special needs.
Foster saw a community in need
According to 2000 Census data, there are over 10,063 individuals ages 16 to 64 with work disabilities, mobility limitations and self-care limitations in Santa Cruz County. This represents over 6.5% of the population. There are too few recreational programs and activities available to meet the needs of physically and developmentally challenged populations on the Central Coast.
Shared Adventures opens doors
We create opportunities to enjoy arts and social interaction, as well as engage with the natural environment through outdoor recreation. Our diverse Calendar of Activities includes kayaking, art classes, surfing, trips to local venues, sailing, indoor rock-climbing, river rafting, dance parties with live music, archery, camping trips, whale watching, bowling, horseback riding, table tennis and much more. We are always searching for new, fun activities to add to our calender, so keep checking back for updates!
Our goal is to offer opportunities for social and recreational interaction for disabled people, and thereby encourage:
- Personal growth, development, and self-confidence
- Cooperation, decision-making, and leadership skills
- Outdoor skills and environmental awareness
- Improved quality of life and level of happiness
We are the only program in Santa Cruz County that offers a year-round calendar of recreational events that is completely inclusive! We cater to people of all walks of life, including age, disability, and our veterans.
Shared Adventures has been a Paralympic Sport Club since 2012. The U.S. Paralympics, a division of the U.S. Olympic Committe, and Shared Adventures have partnered to create Paralympic Sport – Santa Cruz.
Paralympics Sport Clubs are community-based programs developed to involve youth and adults with physical and visual disabilities, including active duty service members and veterans, in ongoing sports and physical activity, regardless of skill level.
For more information about our Paralympics activities and the U.S. Paralympics overall, visit the official US Paralympics site at teamUSA.org.
Board of Directors
Foster Andersen, Founder/President
Foster’s incredible adventure began when, at seventeen, during the summer between his junior and senior years of high school, life as he knew it ended.
An active and athletic youth, Foster was riding his motorcycle—his source of freedom and independence—in the Upstate New York woods where he often journeyed to commune with nature. When he awoke in the hospital, unable to move, it had been two weeks since the accident. He’d been in a coma. For six seconds, he’d touched death when his heart stopped beating. He vividly recalls the out-of-body experience.
But Foster was far from done with the world. Seven months later, he left the hospital. First priority? “I wanted to get outdoors again. I wanted to get unstuck.”
He wouldn’t be able to walk, but he would go on to bungee jump out of a hot air balloon. Not to mention scuba dive, surf, chair-ski, sail, follow the Grateful Dead, drive across the country in a van with a parrot, attend engineering school, invent and get a patent for a Frisbee for quadriplegics, the Quad-Bee… An inventor and an innovator, Foster’s adventures were far from over—they were beginning… just in a very different way than he ever could have imagined.
Living adventurous to the max, Foster’s calling became to Share the Adventure with others in the disabled community.
“So many people say, ‘You can’t do that,’” Foster says. “My mom told me, ‘There’s no such thing as can’t.’ When I started doing things she didn’t want me to, I’d tell her, ‘Remember what you said… Whether it’s people born with a disability or people like me, there is life after challenge.”
Foster helped co-found Shared Adventures with a sit-ski program in 1985, in Rochester, NY. Now, Foster has been running the Shared Adventures program in Santa Cruz for over twenty-one years.
For over 20 years, Geneva has been actively involved in the nonprofit world, where she puts her passion for community building to work though building marketing campaigns, administration, and fundraising. In her previous career as a financial adviser, she was a distinguished recipient of the Morgan Stanley Outstanding Performance Award. After stepping away from the hectic pace of investment banking, she and her husband, Steven, moved to Reno, NV, where she continued work on independent marketing projects, co-producing a business talk radio show, “The Cheri Hill Show,” and raising five children. In 2015, she moved back to Santa Cruz with her family, where she and Steven are active in local charity events, creating positive change in the community. When not working or attending one of her boys’ sporting events, Geneva can be found at the beach exploring the shore with her family.
Becky Loves the outdoors and plans adventures for herself, friends, kids, and you.
She grew up being outdoors and was introduced to many adventures, as she grew up she never grew out of planning and going on adventures. She hikes, kayaks, sails, bikes, and swims on her off time. Becky comes to us with a masters in Outdoor Education, 6 plus years of planning adventures for kids, an organized mind, and a love for adventure and learning. We are happy to have her help us keep the adventures alive.
Open Art Studio Instructor
Anastasia Torres-Gil is an accomplished artist, having exhibited her acrylic paintings throughout the California Bay Area and New York. Anastasia enjoys competing in Trashion shows, where she “upcycles” unconventional materials into elaborate garments. She is also an award-winning designer of dog & guinea pig couture. Anastasia’s artistic philosophy is to embrace one’s own creativity and create with boldness and fun.
Shared Garden Project Facilitator
Sylvia moved to Santa Cruz four years ago to attend UC Santa Cruz and study psychology. While there, she was involved with the Program in Community and Agroecology (PICA) as a volunteer and employee while working as a Resident Assistant. In her senior year she made friends with the community at Common Roots Farm and did a field study at the farm. Sylvia turned her studies towards horticultural therapy and took a class in horticultural therapy from the University of Colorado in the winter of 2018. During that time she worked on a curriculum for the farm that outlines a ten-week course in gardening for the intellectually and physically disabled community. Sylvia was awarded a community service recognition award from the Psychology Department at UCSC for her work. Sylvia graduated with a BA in Psychology in June of 2019 and started working for Shared Adventures as a facilitator in the following month. She has found the work to be as rewarding for the facilitators as it is for the participants, and looks forward to creating more accessible and enriching programs. In her free time, Sylvia can be found playing music with friends, being crafty and artistic, hiking, and studying and practicing living a healthy, communal life.
Special Education Consultant
Jackie has over a decade of experience working with individuals with special needs. She has spent several years working as a classroom aid in special education programs, & has also served as an at-home aid for young people with various physical & mental disabilities. Jackie earned her BA in Sociology at the University of California, Santa Cruz with a minor in Education. She is committed to creating exciting and fun experiences for those with disabilities & believes education, activity, & recreation are key components of a positive lifestyle.