The Arcadia Institute

Making it possible for people with disabilities to be welcomed, supported and respected in their community

Entries for July 2010

Reflections From an Arcadia Institute Intern

My name is Grant Nemeth and I am a senior at Western Michigan University majoring in Physical Education. This summer I have been interning for The Arcadia Institute. I work with summer camps and programs on the “Community Participation Initiative,” helping to support campers with many different disabilities. As a future Physical Education Instructor, it will be my job to include ALL students in Physical Education class. Physical Education teaches students how to be fit and active throughout their life by exposing them to a wide variety of different activities and sports.

Working with different camps this summer I have definitely been exposed to a wide variety of activities and sports such as: Rock climbing, kayaking, going to the beach in South Haven, playing capture the pig, playing gaga ball, horseback riding, shooting pool, step dance classes, singing camp songs, building camp fires, hiking, team building activities and several others. Not only did the campers I worked with participate in these activities but they were very successful in doing them. Many of the activities were new to me such as gaga ball, team building activities, step dance classes and playing capture the pig, which I will try to incorporate in my future P.E. class units. Just like my P.E. classes where I will make sure all students successfully participate, camps are another place where everyone should be participating and having successful camp experiences.

Some of the things that I learned this summer are:

  • All kids have strengths and weaknesses.
  • Kids that are labeled are not always the ones who need additional support.
  • Kids are a lot more accepting of people with differences than adults sometimes are.
  • Every child deserves to be exposed to a variety of different activities and positive experiences.
  • Parents worry that their children will not be as successful as they end up being at camp.
  • Every camp counselor that I worked with was amazing and there was not one situation that I questioned how they handled it.

Building a Community of Belonging: Announcing Our Facilitators For March 2011

We are pleased to announce that we have invited John and Connie Lyle O’Brien to come to Kalamazoo on March 16 and 17, 2011 to help facilitate discussions and assist us as we continue to broaden our community support network – Building a Community of Belonging.

They are internationally known for their work in communities to expand support for individuals with disabilities. John and Connie Lyle O’Brien visited Kalamazoo in the 1980′s and have written a number of publications about serving people with disabilities and community building.

Here is an excerpt from one of their papers:
UNFOLDING CAPACITY: PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES AND THEIR ALLIES BUILDING BETTER COMMUNITIES TOGETHER
As we come to understand it, community building happens when people step outside the roles prescribed by the formal and informal administrative structures and the assumptions that typically organize life for people with substantial disabilities. Distinctions between staff and clients and family members and ordinary citizens dissolve as the familiar patters of interaction that maintain them shift, and people discover new possibilities for shared action. (Full Story)

For more information about The O’Briens and to read more of their articles visit PUBLICATIONS BY JOHN O’BRIEN AND CONNIE LYLE O’BRIEN

Mark your calendars for March 16th and 17th – you won’t want to miss out on being part of this two day event!

Working as a Team to Support Participation

In the Community Participation Initiative, we assume, and have found it to be true, that community organizations and programs are very interested in including people with disabilities. What they ask of us is support.

The Community Participation Initiative Staff offer training and ongoing support, but we also encourage organizations to connect to each other for ideas and suggestions to accommodate anyone who participates in their programs. Below are some tips for working together to support individuals with disabilities so they can be successful participating in programs:

  1. Build relationships among staff, parents, family, support coordinators and especially the person with the disability so that communication is open.
  2. Determine what training needs or information is necessary for the staff to support the individual with disabilities.
  3. Continually evaluate and adjust programming as necessary.
  4. Consider what successful participation looks like for the individual with disabilities. It may be different from what success looks like for others.
  5. Assess the facilities for accessibility. Identify necessary changes in the physical environment, potential accommodations, and possible adaptations for the program.

If you have questions or other ideas please contact us!

Summer Success Story

We have talked often about how when individuals with disabilities are
included in the community, everyone benefits. This week, we wanted to
share a story about one of our participants, how he pursued his
interests and how he found a great fit at one of our partner
organizations, the Nature Center.

Ron is a young man with autism. He is quite active in the community
and works at a local movie theater. Ron was looking for new
experiences and primarily places where he could use his love of nature
photography. We contacted the Kalamazoo Nature Center to see if they
ever had volunteer photographers for their promotional literature. We
discovered that they do use photographers for a variety of tasks so we
set up a meeting for Ron to meet the Nature Center staff. They
suggested some great ideas and, as a result, Ron is enjoying being a
photo-monitor for the Nature Center. Erosion tracking is very
important to the Nature Center and now Ron is taking pictures of
stairs around the property to help track erosion.