Stories of independence, success, and impact

What Are Natural Supports and Why Are They So Important

July 2021

Natural Supports are good for everyone!

Being a part of a community gives us a sense of belonging, which is so important to the human experience. It helps us to relate, grow, and feel like we are part of something greater than ourselves.  An integral part of community involvement includes Natural Supports.

Natural Supports are the relationships that occur in our everyday lives. Natural supports usually involve friends, co-workers, neighbors, roommates, and acquaintances who provide companionship, encouragement, and comradery. Adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities are often surrounded by staff who are paid to support them.  Usually, these adults need help to develop more personal relationships.  Once connections are made, Natural Supports become an important part of their life in the community.

Bowling leagues, community center art classes, and programs like EmployAbility’s Day Services may lead to friendships and connections that last far beyond the actual program. Over time, these connections help individuals build a strong community network and support system.

Some ways to build natural supports include:

Volunteer Day at EmployAbility

  • Engage in community activities and volunteer projects with EmployAbility’s Enrichment Center– Emmaus House Soup Kitchen, community outings, and other outings.
  • Join groups and clubs – check out activities and groups for people with disabilities such as Special Pops tennis and pickleball leagues, ABO Alternative Baseball, and Best Buddies, as well as groups and clubs open to people of all abilities in your community.
  • Participate in Peer Supports through LIFE (Living Independently For Everyone).
  • Socialize with neighbors.
  • Explore work opportunities through EmployAbility’s Supported Employment Program or prepare for Supported Employment with The Academy’s prevocational training program.
  • Attend church and faith-based activities outside of traditional worship services.


How can you help others strengthen their natural supports?  

  • Natural Supports can be as easy as having a conversation! Say hello to a person with disabilities in the community when you see them.
  • Volunteer at EmployAbility and become a Natural Support for the disability community.
  • Learn more about activities individuals are already involved in and explore ways connections can be strengthened.
  • Help folks explore their communities to find activities and resources that fit their interests.
  • Encourage and help people attend social or community activities.
  • Ask for ideas and help.
About EmployAbility

EmployAbility is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization that prepares adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) for competitive employment and community inclusion.

As a non-governmental organization, we rely heavily on support from individual donors, businesses, and foundation grants for funding. No donation is too small to help us sustain our vital programs.

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