This post was originally published in the Jan/Feb Edition of the ANCOR LINKS newsletter.
Many community living organizations excel at providing a wide range of programs that are geared specifically towards their clients. However, studies have shown that adults with physical and/or intellectual disabilities benefit greatly from inclusive programs that involve the community at large. While these types of programs take a bit more planning and preparation, the rewards are well worth the extra time. Below is a look at ten effective program ideas that you can use to promote inclusion within your community.
1. Intramural Sports
Nearly any type of sport can be designed as an inclusive program. Certain accommodations and extra instruction may be necessary, but the goal should be to allow each participate to perform as independently as possible.
2. Painting Events
Painting events have become very popular in recent years. At these events, an instructor guides participants, but everyone creates their own masterpiece. Not only is art a great therapy for adults with disabilities, but minimal accommodation will be required.
3. Music Therapy Program
This inclusive idea is quite broad and could include anything from hosting music events throughout the year to planning a music competition to creating a community band.
4. Job Fairs
Finding gainful employment is a major difficulty facing adults with disabilities. However, working with local businesses to host a community job fair will not only open doors for your clients, but it will provide a great learning experience and an opportunity to socialize with other job seekers in the local area.
5. Walking Club
Whether walking at a local park or the nearby mall, a walking club is a perfect program to implement in your community. Even your physically disabled and wheelchair-bound clients will be able to participate with little extra support. In addition, this low-impact activity gives all participants plenty of time to socialize.
6. Entrepreneur Mentorship Program
There is a significant lack of business owners with disabilities in the country. Unfortunately, misconceptions and stigma can prevent adults with disabilities from even being taken seriously, let alone receiving the financing needed to start a business. The University of Illinois has started a program that brings together service providers and business leaders in the community to tackle some of these barriers. A similar mentorship program could work in any community in the country.
7. Work-Ready Program
With unemployment still fluctuating, people with and without disabilities are looking for help securing that perfect job. Creating a work-ready program will not just help you clients, but others in the community looking for work. Participants can be taught how to write a resume, interviewing tips and similar job-ready skills.
8. Exercise Programs
You do not have to have access to a full-size gym to start an aerobic, Zumba or dance program. These types of programs are well received by many in the community, and allow participants to work according to their own pace and abilities.
10. Volunteers Program
Volunteers programs within the community, such as cleaning up the local park and helping at the county library, can allow your clients to join with other members in the local area to improve their community. It can also teach valuable job skills.
No matter what programs you intend to implement, it is important to plan ahead for any types of accomodations that may be necessary. It is always a good idea to ask each participant to list any necessary accomodations as part of the program enrollment process, which will allow you to be prepared.
An even better method is to capture this information during the intake process for your community living center. That way it's kept it a central location and can be accessed by the staff leading various programs. Also, as many of the programs take clients outside the center, it's important for staff to carry with them emergency contact informaton and any medical/allergy notifications. Having this information in a central datacase, which can be securely accessed by staff on their mobile devices can save a lot of paperwork from having to be carried off-site. It also makes sure that confidential data isn't ever lost in the shuffle.
If you are looking for more ways to improve client care at your organization, down the free guide: 6 Tech-savvy ideas that will enhance (and simplify) client care.