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 innovative ways that the Portage District Library offers people with disabilities the opportunity to build relationships and contribute.
The Portage District Library is also a community art gallery. The entry ramp always has interesting picture, paintings or other textiles. The main floor has a couple of sections where local artists can have an exhibit. There are also a couple of showcases for three dimensional art like sculpture, pottery or even knitted work.
Three people that we have worked with through the Community Participation Initiative have had the opportunity to share their work through these opportunities. Part of the exhibit is having a community reception at the opening of the exhibit. This provides an opportunity for the community to meet the artists in person. One young man who paints with his mouth was even given an opportunity to demonstrate how he creates his unique paintings.
Over the past year, The Arcadia Institute has deepened our relationship with the Portage District Library in other ways. As a Partner of the Kalamazoo Connect Network, the Library hosted some of our meetings. They worked with the Network also when they chose Ready Reads as a thoughtful and respectful name for the high interest/low reading ability collection. Also, The Arcadia Institute connected Library staff with the staff of a group home in order to better understand how to serve people with disabilities.
Portage District Library is a wonderful example of an organization that recognizes that there are many different people in their community and specifically reaches out to those who might be over looked.