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‘Walk and Talk with CJ’ celebrates community and inclusion

KPCW | Amber Johnson

A free weekly program at the PC MARC brings people of all abilities together to walk, talk and discover their superpowers.

You’ve probably seen CJ Haerter around town at Lucky Ones Coffee or the pool. Known by some as Park City’s unofficial mayor, this 21-year-old with Down Syndrome works hard and plays hard.

Division manager Heather Todd said the MARC tries to create an integral workplace for all abilities. CJ has been a beloved fixture in the aquatics program for several seasons. Two years ago, the staff started exploring ways to work with him in the wintertime.

“He came up with this walk and talk where he could write icebreaker questions and walk the track with friends," she said. "And it could be for anybody to come inside and for someone just to have a community.”

 “Walk and Talk with CJ” is every Monday at 2 p.m. through mid-May. The group leisurely loops the track seven times covering about a mile. CJ said you don’t have to be a member of the MARC to attend. “It’s so much fun at my walk talk. It’s so much fun to talk to everyone. And that's it.”

CJ not only walks the talk, he has great taste in public radio stations. “I’d love to say I love KPCW, because they are awesome people the whole time.”

Most of the walkers are from the Park City Learning Center’s transition class where young adults 18 to 22 of all abilities learn about employment, continuing education and independent living while also honing their social skills.

KPCW | Amber Johnson

CJ’s icebreakers provoke lots of laughter and some answers are more controversial than others, like his classmate Taylor’s least favorite food. “My favorite food is hamburgers. My least favorite is mac and cheese. Yes, I said mac and cheese." 

During our walk, CJ also asked the group what superpower they wanted. This time, Taylor’s answer was spot-on. “I would want to get a happy power to give people happiness.”

And if you spend time walking and talking with CJ and company, you’ll quickly learn that superpower has already been granted.