The Arcadia Institute

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

Entries for February 2011

Partner Spotlight: Southwest Michigan Council of Boy Scouts

So much of what we learn as children affects our adult lives. This is why many important lessons, like sharing, are taught to young children. But these basic ideas and lessons aren’t the only things children can learn. Through guidance and support, they can learn about teamwork, doing the right thing, self-confidence and the value of helping others. These lessons (and many more) are taught by the Southwest Michigan Council of Boy Scouts.

A child with experience in the Boy Scouts learns the confidence to face challenges, make decisions and try new things. They also learn how to work together and support each other.

The Southwest Michigan Council of Boy Scouts has joined the Arcadia Institute and its partners in their effort to Build a Community of Belonging here in the Greater Kalamazoo area. Whether it’s trying something new or finally succeeding on a difficult task, earning confidence helps an individual grow. The Arcadia Institute and the Southwest Michigan Council of Boy Scouts are dedicated to the idea that improving the individual improves the community as a whole.

Together, we want to make Kalamazoo a place where all people belong!

Partner Spotlight: YMCA of Greater Kalamazoo

Keeping healthy is an important part of life. It’s usually easy to tell when we’re sick. We ache or have a runny nose or start coughing. But what about the health of our mind and spirit? It’s the mission of the YMCA of Greater Kalamazoo to offer programming to help us be healthy in mind, body and spirit.

Whether novice or advanced, young or not-so-young, the Y is there to help you and to be a positive influence in the community.

It’s not just the health of individuals the Y is working to improve. With the Arcadia Institute, the Y is working to create a healthy community. The Y recognizes the benefits of including all people.

But their desire for a healthy community is not limited to their own programming. The Y is also an active supporter and participant in the Building a Community of Belonging Forum.

Is Greater Kalamazoo a healthy place to live? Through the efforts of the Arcadia Institute and the Y, we’re making it happen. Working with Arcadia and other organizations in the community, the Y is working to improve the health of individuals and the community by making Kalamazoo a place where all people belong.

Partner Spotlight: Kalamazoo Nature Center

The mission of the Kalamazoo Nature Center is very clear. By connecting people to the natural world around them, they hope to inspire everyone to care for their environment. The idea is that everyone – no matter who you are – can learn to appreciate nature and learn to care for the environment.

Through their camp and education programs, the Nature Center reaches out to all members of the Kalamazoo community and invites them to be a part of their mission.

This outlook has been the basis of their partnership with the Arcadia Institute.

The Nature Center continues to support the Arcadia Institute and its mission to create a positive environment for people with disabilities. Not only does the Nature Center achieve this through its own programs, but also through its support of the Building a Community of Belonging Forum.

Working with Arcadia and other organizations in the community, the Nature Center is working to conserve a different kind of environment in Kalamazoo: one where all people belong.

Kent County Arc is Building a Community of Belonging With Us!

This week’s article was written by Lynette Dooley from Arc Kent County. Thank you for sharing with us, Lynette!

Following the original model of George Martin and The Arcadia Institute, The Arc Kent County is working to Build a Community of Belonging in the Grand Rapids area. Arc works with young adults with developmental disabilities and helps them pursue activities of their choosing so they participate along with others (of all abilities) in their communities who share similar interests.

To date, participants have attended sporting events, helped feed fish in an aquarium, assisted in managing a high school girls basketball team, ridden a Zamboni, spent time on a college campus, taken yoga classes, learned line-dancing, attended an opera, constructed, painted and tore down sets for a theatre, created and sold artwork and greeted guests at a YMCA. Presently, we have seventeen individuals who are a part of our initiative.

One participant, Philip, attends school and has a job at a restaurant in an avant garde part of town. In addition, he plays a significant role in the life of his dynamic family. He is artistic. His interests include photography, music, dance, singing, movies and drama. He has much to offer his community in terms of his unique personality and considerable abilities. Philip also has Down syndrome.

After meeting with Philip to discuss possible community opportunities, it was clear he wished to spend some of his spare time at the Grand Rapids Civic Theatre (GRCT), where he was invited to video-graph their inventory of props and costumes for insurance purposes.
Pam, the production coordinator, initially interviewed Philip and was impressed not only with the professional and skilled manner with which he held and operated the camera, but also with the quick and easy rapport they established.

Philip contributed meaningfully to the work of the theatre and was a valued member of the creative and technical team. He met other volunteers and employees and worked behind the scenes in rooms filled with costumes and props of all eras and characters—treasures that typical theatre-goers never get to see.

With patience and determination, Philip documented each piece as instructed. His work was then loaded onto a computer and forwarded to the insurance agency for their examination and inspection. As a member of the GRCT team, he and his family were invited to attend Peter Pan, which is one of Philip’s favorite Civic productions. When asked by his sister to give his critique of the performance, he borrowed a line from Peter Pan himself and responded with an enthusiastic crow! One word said it all!

Philip completed his first project at the theatre, and new projects are being considered for him in the future, such as additional photography work or ushering at performances. With the assistance of his community living support worker, the community connection was a success for Philip and everyone at the theatre.

We are thrilled with the meaningful connections that have been made so far for individuals in the Grand Rapids area through the Community Participation Initiative, and we look forward to many additional opportunities for individuals and organizations that are just waiting to be discovered!