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DISCOVERING UNREALIZED POTENTIAL

Adventurous Alternatives is a non-profit organization with one goal in mind: to identify underserved or marginalized youth in the greater Fort Smith, AR region that have unrealized potential for personal achievement. Through adventurous experiences like bicycling, camping, hiking, and fishing, we will elevate self esteem, foster perseverance, and create a willingness to embrace challenges in adaptive, prosocial ways.

OUR MISSION

The mission of Adventurous Alternatives is to reach youth ages 13-17 in the greater Fort Smith, AR region that have been marginalized or underserved. We will employ adventure experiences such as bicycling, camping, hiking, and fishing, etc. to identify the unique skill sets of each person then highlight those skill sets to foster self esteem, self valuation, and assertive responsibility. Our adventures will foster hope for a future of meaning, worth, commitment and service to others, as well as service to the communities in which we live. We will accomplish this by infusing self respect, integrity, honor, and respect for others through our activities that push participants to the point of challenge, coupled with determination and accomplishment through cooperation with others.

As an organization, we will mobilize and unify community partners and resources in a concerted effort to derail local at-risk kids and redirect them on a productive, prosocial trajectory. 

OUR FOUNDER

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Dr. Bill Thornton has had a passion for helping the underserved for much of his life and has been committed to providing Fort Smith, AR youth an alternative means of finding a sense of meaning, accomplishment, direction, and self worth. He, too, experienced the injustices of marginalization, discrimination, and being treated as a second-class citizen. Growing up in a single parent household, relegated to welfare, and never having the things the “cool” kids had, he often felt a sense of being sub-standard. He always had abilities for success (as evidenced by his Ph.D. in Psychology and long career as a Clinical Psychologist), but many opportunities to capitalize on that success were not readily available due to his socio-economic status, single parent household, and other socially contrived “flaws.” Fortunately, he was always able to adapt to adventure-type activities and through these, gained a life of self-esteem, sense of mastery, and hope for a purposeful future. Dr. Thornton credits his accomplishments to the idea that “God has always had angels watching over me to guide me, keep me safe, and give me hope through wonderful examples.”

Dr. Thornton has wedded his passion of all outdoor activities with his compassion for underserved  youth (whether based on race, socioeconomic status, gender, religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation, or any other social grouping) to offer them the same opportunities that have been so important to guiding him into a happy, respected, accomplished, professional and community leader. 

As an avid outdoor sports enthusiast, Dr. Thornton has the experience necessary to help train teens. He began running at age eleven and continues running after having won several awards, trophies and establishing himself as a respected runner wherever he goes. He was featured in a documentary film aired on OLN and continues to follow that passion. One of his greatest running accomplishments was a 3 hour 1 minute marathon. Dr. Thornton also became heavily involved in Mountain Biking and Road Cycling. He has been racing mountain bikes at the highest level for non-professionals for many years. He has won multiple state championship honors and also finished 6th in the nation for his age group. Dr. Thornton has trained under professional trainers/coaches and brings a great deal of experience to the table. Over his lifetime, Dr. Thornton has also been an avid skier, road cyclist, sailor, commercial fisherman, backpacker, and motorcycle enthusiast (among other things). He brings this experience to Adventurous Alternatives and desires to open doors of opportunity for other underserved youth that are more than capable but lacking opportunities.

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