The blog this week was written by Jennifer Goodwill, Community Broker at The Arcadia Institute. At the Arcadia Institute, our mission is to make it possible for people with disabilities to be welcomed, supported and respected in their communities. Through Community Brokering and Community Participation, our approach to carrying out this mission is to focus on the individual, connecting them to their community based on their interests and strengths. As we go about our work of helping them find places in the community where they may contribute their gifts, we bump up against challenges. Challenges like transportation, housing, and isolation. As we come up against these difficulties, we work with the individual to find solutions. We could put our efforts into addressing these larger issues and advocating for change on a large scale. However, we choose to be intentional about focusing on individuals and their specific choices. We don’t underestimate the value of small beginnings growing into a big impact on the community.
A year ago, we created a MAP for an individual. A few members of his family, along with a couple paid support people, participated in the meeting. 8 months later we needed to update his MAP. The room was filled with 4 more people from the community he had met after his first MAP. They gave of their time to support him and learn more about his goals.
Another young man wanted to improve his reading skills. His family felt like they were hitting dead ends trying to find help for him. After bringing his community together and learning more about the issue, we worked as a team to talk to the school and search the community to find literacy tutoring for him.
A young woman has started volunteering in the community. She has depended on her family for transportation. Now she is ready to take the brave step of learning to use public transportation and be more independent. She starts next week.
A woman is going through a difficult housing and financial situation. The stress is having a negative impact on her health. A few months ago, we helped her find a knitting group in the community. She thought it would be a meaningful activity that would take her mind off of her situation and help her meet new people. She now enjoys knitting hats and has donated 10 hats to children in our community.
By growing the good in individual lives, we see the beginnings of small changes that may grow and multiply to significant impact throughout our community.