Community integration is a key component of Didlake’s mission: creating opportunities that enrich the lives of people with disabilities. Through our Day Support and Employment Services Programs, we empower people with disabilities to actively participate in the community – in all areas of life, such as employment, independent living, educational and social activities.
Integrated, inclusive communities value the unique talents of all members and give everyone access to the same opportunities, regardless of background or abilities. Community integration is important because we all need to feel connected with others. Our wellbeing depends greatly on our relationships with family, friends, colleagues, neighbors, teammates and others within our community. As active members of the community, people with disabilities have richer life experiences and more fulfilling lives. The community is also enriched when everyone participates.
What is Community Engagement?
Community engagement means different things for everyone. Everyone is different; we like different things; we go to different places; and we have different interests. Figuring out what “meaningful” means to you is the key. What is important to you? What types of things do you like to do? These are some of the questions that you should ask yourself when thinking about how you would like to participate in your community.
Make sure the places that you are going make you feel welcomed, included and add value to your life. If these things aren’t happening, then maybe you should try something different. Bring someone along with you who enjoys doing the same things; or find a local club or group that you can join where people share the same interests as you. If you need support to accomplish this, ask for it! We all need a little help sometimes. Just because you may have a disability, doesn’t mean that you have to only go to places where other people with disabilities go. Be bold, try new things, and enjoy yourself. Why? Because you won’t know unless you try.
Who Do I Get Involved With My Community?
Remember, you belong here and there and everywhere! Inclusion is key, and it is our job to teach the community at large that. Being in the community can be very rewarding, valuable and fun, for you and the people around you!
Here are a few ideas that may get you started on getting involved with your community:
- Bowling league
- Art/sewing/pottery class
- Homeowner’s association member/neighborhood watch
- Church group
- Swimming lessons
- Exercise classes
- Gym memberships
- Volunteering (we will talk about this more in our next blog post!)
Community engagement opportunities are virtually endless. It might take a few tries to find your match, but it will be well worth the effort. Once you find an activity that is meaningful to you, you’re likely to develop relationships with people who share common interests and feel much more rewarded as an active member of your community.