The Arcadia Institute

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

We Need Everyone’s Gifts

The blog this week was written by Dr. Allison Hammond, Executive Director of The Arcadia Institute.

“Ourchestra:
So you haven’t got a drum, just beat your belly.
So I haven’t got a horn-I’ll play my nose.
So we haven’t any cymbals-
We’ll just slap our hands together,
And though there may be orchestras
That sound a little better
With their fancy shiny instruments
That cost an awful lot-
Hey, we’re making music twice as good
By playing what we’ve got!”
– Shel Silverstein

This is one of my favorite poems by Shel Silverstein that presents in a whimsical manner why we need one another. I thought I would share it for the blog this week.

Also, as I was looking for articles about the importance of diversity in our communities, I stumbled across this wonderful website, Radiant Abilities and it’s blog. I wanted to share it with you.

Working Toward a Tipping Point: Competitive Employment for People with Disabilities

The blog this week was written by Dr. Allison Hammond, Executive Director of The Arcadia Institute.

On a very positive note, through The Arcadia Institute Community Brokering and other programs such as Project Search, it feels like there is a growing movement toward a tipping point in Kalamazoo around employment of people with disabilities. The more that people with disabilities are successfully employed the more stigmas and barriers to competitive employment for people with disabilities are being questioned.

Since 2012, The Arcadia Institute through Community Brokering has been working towards supporting people with disabilities to find meaningful Activity, independent living arrangements and competitive employment. We have found that the community is quite open to people with disabilities participating in recreation, leisure, volunteer and other activities that are meaningful. In general, we can find independent living solutions that allow people to live in situations more of their choosing. Then we come to competitive employment which is defined as working at least part time at least minimum wage. We have had some success in this arena.

However, as we encounter business owners and employers, we still find that there are stigmas for people with disabilities. We find that people will say, “Can’t those people go work at such and such program?” “Aren’t there places for people like that?” “We don’t have time to make accommodations to support people with disabilities.”

We do want to say that these comments are not in anyway mean spirited or meant to down play their concern that people with disabilities deserve to have full lives in the community, including employment. It is simply that we as a society perpetuate these notions that people with disabilities are “other” and need to work at special places when we create sheltered workshops and groups of people with disabilities working under the supervision of a specialist.

Please consider this article about Sheltered Workshop Reform http://www.paraquad.org/blog/lets-reform-sheltered-workshop-employment/

If you have any questions or want more information about The Arcadia Institute please contact Allison Hammond at 269-217-2205 or ahammond@thearcadiainstitute.org

Finding the Gems in Our Community

The blog this week was written by Dr. Allison Hammond, Executive Director of The Arcadia Institute.

A few weeks ago, a man we will call Sam and I visited the Gilmore Car Museum. Sam does not get to go many places in the community very often as living in a group home limits opportunities to go places that he enjoys. Today, we are going back again as he loved it. The Gilmore Car Museum is a wonderful accessible place for people to enjoy the history of cars worldwide!

I really like my job!

Living with Autism in Our Community

The blog this week was written by Dr. Allison Hammond, Executive Director of The Arcadia Institute.

A few years ago, George Martin, the President of The Arcadia Institute produced a video titled Living with Autism in Our Community. It is available for anyone in the community to view.

This video seems even more relevant today as more children are being diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Many of the families that we work with struggle when the community at large is less that understanding of their children. You can view that video here:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2LrtNW_I7U0&feature=youtu.be

Neighborliness: A little more Mister Rogers

The blog this week was written by Dr. Allison Hammond, Executive Director of The Arcadia Institute.

Recently, I read the book Peaceful Neighbor: Discovering the Counterculture Mister Rogers. Fred Rogers was an advocate, though quietly through his children’s television show on the Public Broadcasting System (PBS), for those who are marginalized, forgotten and sometime mistreated. However, he was of the mindset that we not “Do” for others but that we do “with others” and create community. Here is one quote from the book:

“I knew how tempting it could be to encourage generosity by asking people to help ‘the needy’ or those who are ‘less fortunate.’ ” But Rogers opposed the labels. “That kind of thinking divides people into ‘us’ and ‘them,’ and doesn’t necessarily contribute to a sense of ‘neighborliness.’ ”

After reading this book, I wanted to learn more about Fred Rogers and his quiet compassion and passion for social justice. Then I found this quote:

“Part of the problem with the word disabilities is that it immediately suggests an inability to see or hear or walk or do other things that many of us take for granted. But what of people who can’t feel? Or talk about their feelings? Or manage their feelings in constructive ways? What of people who aren’t able to form close and strong relationships? And people who cannot find fulfillment in their lives, or those who have lost hope, who live in disappointment and bitterness and find in life no joy, no love? These, it seems to me, are the real disabilities.”

From The World According to Mister Rogers (Kindle Locations 142-146).

I think we all could us a little more Mister Rogers now.

For more information about The Arcadia Institute visit our website at www.thearcadiainstitute.org or contact Allison Hammond at 269-254-8224 or ahammond@thearcadiainstitute.org.