The Arcadia Institute

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

Entries for June 2011

Kalamazoo: A community where all people belong.

Exciting things have been happening since we held the second annual Building a Community of Belonging: A Forum of The Arcadia Institute and Its Partners in March 2011. First, at the April 25 Forum Follow Up meeting, the group decided to start meeting monthly on the fourth Monday, from 9 – 11AM at the Maple St. YMCA.

Attendees at our meetings in April and in May have been just as representative of the people in our community who participated in the forum. There are three things that we are working on at these meetings:

Community Commitment to Inclusion Checklist – we are creating a list of things that organizations and businesses can use to self-assess how they are doing to welcome support and respect everyone and in particular individuals with disabilities.

Everyone is Invited – we are thinking of ways to use social media, email messages and regular old phone calls to link each other with activities going on in the community. What are some fun things we can do together to make sure individuals with disabilities are invited to be part of our community?

Growing our Network – more specifically we are looking at ways to invite for-profit businesses to be part of our Network.

We have had a few new faces at our meetings. Please join us if you are able as we commit to making Kalamazoo a community where all people belong.

Contact Allison Hammond at 269-254-8224 or for more information!

Community Participation Training 2011

We just wrapped up camp staff training week. As always, when we go to camps we find dedicated, enthusiastic and welcoming people. These mostly college and high school aged young people are committed to being sure that all children and youth who come to their programs have successful experiences.

One young man at the Camp Rota Kiwan training for the 3rd year said, “You guys always have something new to teach us that we can use at camp.”

Thank you to my colleagues Hyun Berkley, Craig Campbell and Josh Stevens for the awesome job they did presenting a lot of information in a fun and interactive manner.

If you want information about having us provide training for your staff you can contact us via this website or call 269-254-8224.

Also, we have two other informational DVD’s that we can share with your group:

1. The Community Participation Initiative: The Kalamazoo Experience
2. Living with Autism in Our Community

Both are about 15 minutes long and offer an opportunity for people to discuss how the Community can become responsible of welcoming, support and respecting individuals with disabilities.

Community Membership

This week the blog was written by George Martin, President of The Arcadia Institute.

What does it mean to you to be a community member?

• Having friends to enrich your life and support you

• Taking part in community activities you choose

• Making a contribution to others and being responsible for them

• Being respected for who you are and what you bring to the community

• Having a job and/or taking part in pursuits that hold meaning for you

Sounds exactly like what community membership means to people with disabilities.

Find us on Facebook

. . . and join our Network of people working to make Kalamazoo a community where everyone belongs. We have been meeting on the fourth Monday of the month from 9 – 11AM at the Maple St. YMCA. One thing we are beginning to use is Facebook as a way to let people know what is going on in Kalamazoo. Connecting through Facebook we can invite each other to join us if we are attending community events.

Another project we have started is to develop a checklist for community businesses and organizations to use to as a tool to help them welcome, support and respect people with disabilities. Our Network is committed to Kalamazoo becoming a place where everyone is responsible for including everyone in community life, but sometimes we all need support to make that happen.

You can join our Network by “Liking” us at The Arcadia Institute Facebook page or joining our email list at The Arcadia Institute website.

One last thing – our Network needs a name. Please share your ideas by commenting on this blog post!