One of the new interns in our office, Kate Swinarski, and I met a couple weeks ago to introduce ourselves. Kate is a senior in Social Work at Creighton and has had a rich experience working with special needs people. When she and I began discussing her work with inclusive settings, she lit up like a Christmas tree. All excited about telling me about the program she had created. In one of her previous jobs, Kate noticed that working outside in the community is more positive and engaging experience for anyone, but special needs learners were her priority. She found jobs for people to work alongside other employees. She felt this had more value than some of the sheltered workshop activities she’d experienced. Kate worked her way into the Joslyn Art Museum and persuaded them to hire on one of her people to help sweep after hours at the museum. While no one else joined her on this quest, sadly the program never got off the ground.
But it does help me get off the ground.
Daryn Richardson, Services Development Director at VODEC, described programs woven into community spaces so that specially-abled people aren’t shuttled off somewhere to do their programs in a large warehouse or office. They can contribute in real and meaningful ways out in the community, on the job site….at the FARM! There is a federal law that mandates this and I’m going to learn more about it.
Kate shared about a not-for-profit group called Angel Guardians. Their mission is to improve the quality of life for individuals with intellectual/developmental disabilities in the areas of employment, fitness, socialization and recreation. They were formed by parents of special needs adults who wanted to have qualified support and rich experiences for their families. I think Angel Guardians will definitely be on my list to visit when I’m doing my deep dive into local agencies that will have people who may be interested in our program at Camp Brewster!
The other group she shared to explore is ENCOR-DD. This looks like another great resource for me to dig into. Thanks, Kate! For the great leads. More to follow!