True Accessibility Equals Connections to Community

In 2011, The Connect Kalamazoo Network developed a Community Commitment to Inclusions Checklist. Organizations can use the checklist to self-assess their commitment to including people with disabilities. There are four sections of the checklist: 1. Organization Leadership and Administration 2. Support for Individuals with Disabilities 3. Opportunities for Individuals with Disabilities to Build Relationships and Contribute 4. Accessibility

The Blog this week is about commitment to physical accessibility for people who need help for mobility.

The Girl Scouts Heart of Michigan Program and Training Center in Kalamazoo MI soars over Bronson Blvd. The three pointed eaves represent the three tenets of the Girl Scout Promise:

On my honor, I will try: To serve God and my country, To help people at all times And to live by the Girl Scout Law.

As you enter the building a person at the coffee counter will greet you. You can get a cup of coffee for $1.50. There are comfortable chairs and tables by a fireplace. This is a wonderful place to go if you have 3 or 4 people you need to meet. Buying coffee helps support the Girl Scouts.

Looking around you see several tiers of floors and spaces. BUT WAIT! Where is the elevator? With all of these floors how would a person who uses a wheelchair get around the building.

Lack of elevators is by design. Girl Scouts were involved in many aspects of the facility development. They did not want any girl to have to wait for an elevator to be with her friends. In the design of the building, there are ramps everywhere. There is not place in the building a person using a wheelchair cannot access.

This is an example of commitment to physical accessibility of an organization. How forward thinking were these young women to recognized that creating a space where some people would have to wait for an elevator would create a disconnect from their friends for there? They understood that accessibility equals staying connected.

If you are ever in Kalamazoo, we recommend that you visit this marvelous facility – with its custom-made pizza oven, black board paint covered walls in the multipurpose space and beautiful gardens.

Girl Scout Center Architects and designers: H# Architectural, New York, Design Plus, Grand Rapids, SKP Design, Kalamazoo, O'Boyle, Cowell, Blalock  & Associates, Kalamazoo