The Community Participation Initiative

It has been awhile since we have written about what community participation looks like for individuals with disabilities. Somewhere along the road, individuals with disabilities began to be separated from their families and community. Somehow the notion became that people with disabilities need specialized care in special institutions; segregating them from others. In the Community Participation Initiative of the Arcadia Institute, we work to change all of that. At times some individuals with disabilities need support from public agencies created for that purpose. However, in the Initiative we are mobilizing the broader community to become the 'real community' for everyone and to share responsibility with those public agencies Here are the ways that The Community Participation Initiative works:

• We don’t create parallel or separate programs in which people with disabilities are isolated from others who take part in the agency’s programs.

• We assist the child or adult with a disability to figure out what activities he or she prefers.

• We don’t impose our preferences on people with disabilities; we work to find organizations that have those activities in place.

• We assume agencies will provide a welcoming environment, and our job is to help them provide it.

• We enlist the buy-in and endorsement of program directors and staff.

• We provide technical assistance to help program staff make any necessary accommodations to their programs.

• We provide on-site coaching to agency staff, either one-on-one or in group setting.

• We assist them in modifying programs and making necessary accommodations.

• We are available when problems arise, providing concrete solutions.

If you would like more information about our methods contact:

George Martin, President The Arcadia Institute 269-254-8224

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