Community Access Program
Self-advocacy is an important skill for anyone who wants to be successful. For adults with developmental disabilities, it is especially challenging. Effective self-advocacy empowers people to have new experiences, make new friends and supports, and to make their own decisions and learn from them. As people increase their independence, they gain personal satisfaction with their lives.
EmployAbility’s Community Access program creates opportunities to cultivate new, natural supports and to become integrated in the community and, as a result, to become stronger self-advocates. Each day, 36 individuals in six groups engage in activities such as creating art, seeing interesting new places throughout Savannah, and, most importantly, building new connections through volunteering at local nonprofits.
“Our Community Access participants love exploring the community and making new friends. But most of all, they love knowing that people look forward to seeing them and that they are using their abilities to help people,” said Community Access Manager, Mattie.
One of the popular volunteer activities is delivering Meals on Wheels to elderly citizens who would otherwise have very little exposure to people and nutritious meals. Through Meals on Wheels, individuals make new friends and visit old friends as they use their abilities to improve the lives of others.
“I love to volunteer. I get to meet new people, and I love making them smile!” – Marian, Community Access participant
Because of your support, the Community Access program has grown by approximately 40%, allowing individuals to demonstrate that everybody at every ability level can make a difference.
Through these activities, program participants learn that they are accepted as they are – as a whole and an equal – and that they are an integral part of the community.
For more than 20 years, EmployAbility has been proud to support an active chapter People First, a nationwide self-advocacy group for people with intellectual/developmental disabilities (I/DD). Founded in 1974 in Salem, Oregon, People First’s goal was to be a coalition where people with I/DD could come together to share information, ideas, and make new friendships. The name People First was conceived because people who have disabilities should not be defined by a diagnosis or label; rather, they are “People First.”
Open to all citizens of all ability levels, “The goal of People First is to promote self-advocacy, community involvement, and inclusion. It offers members a sense of belonging that they can do something as a group and make a difference in the community and in their own lives,” says Case Manager, Millicent, who serves as the People First Facilitator.
People First attendees discuss their rights and responsibilities as well as listen to guest speakers lead discussions on topics such as financial wellness, personal safety, and how to identify and speak out against bullying. They have also held activities to benefit the community, like making “blessing bags” filled with hygiene products to give to local nonprofits helping people experiencing homelessness or displacement.
The group recently held a voter registration drive at EmployAbility to encourage voting in future elections. They took a field trip to the local Voter Registration Office to become familiar with voting machines and how to cast their vote at election time.
Your support helps adults with I/DD know that they are a valued part of the community and that they are wanted, needed, and appreciated! If you would like to partner with People First or be a guest speaker, please contact Millicent Glover at mgloveremployabilityga.org.