The Arcadia Institute

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

Success Stories

Come a little closer and see what successful community participation really looks like for individuals with disabilities – read some of their success stories! Keep checking back, there’s always a new story to tell!

Youth Success Stories

Oscar (January 2010 – January 2011)

Oscar is a 10 year old boy who loves basketball; however, his mother has been very concerned about his behavior due to developmental disabilities caused by a congenital brain conditions. She was not willing to have him try the basketball program at the YMCA even though we had a tour and she met Y staff. However, she did enroll him in the Unified Basketball program at Western Michigan University in January of 2010.

This first attempt at the Unified Basketball program had mixed success. The sessions were 1 hour and 45 minutes. This was simply too long for Oscar. In addition, the WMU students needed some coaching about how to support Oscar when they were giving instructions.

Oscar tried Unified Basketball again this year, but started only going for 1 hour. We learned that by the end of the program he was staying for the whole session, but he participated in the Unified Basketball Tournament. Oscar’s mom was willing to try the basketball program at the YMCA and he has been going to play now. He has staff from Residential Opportunities that take him.

Juanita (May 2011 – Present)

Juanita is a seven year old girl who loves to dance. Her family has immigrated from Mexico and her parents speak very little English. Juanita has been diagnosed with a mild level of Austim. Working with Parent to Parent and Frances Vega-Costas, who volunteered to translate, we are enrolling Juanita in the Princess Dance Class at the YMCA. The instructor is a Special Education student at Western Michigan University and welcomed Juanita warmly into the class. Following the class we made a follow up call to Juanita’s family and learned that she loved the class. So we are looking for more dance opportunities for her in the Fall.

Adult Success Stories

Ron (January 2010 – Present)

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. They do use photographers for a variety of tasks so we set up a meeting for Ron to meet the person who coordinates one of the programs. Ron became photo-monitor taking pictures of stairs around the property to track erosion.

Peter (January 2009 – Present)

Peter is a young man who has had numerous health difficulties that have impacted his ability to participate in the community. He likes to play board games and meet people. We were able to have him volunteer as the receptionist for a non-profit organization. He enjoyed this regularly scheduled activity and meeting new people. However, because he has short term memory problems he had trouble remembering exactly what to do when he answered phone calls. So, the CPI staff met with him to see what else he might like to try.

Since Peter indicated that he likes to play games, particularly with his nieces and nephews, the CPI staff contacted the Boys and Girls Club to see if they need volunteers to play games with their members. Now, Peter has started volunteering a couple of hours, two times per week at the Boys and Girls Club. This seems to be a good fit for him and he likes it because when he was younger he was a member of the Club.