Local services help individuals living with disabilities engage. Community integration programs provide opportunities to work, learn and play. It boosts confidence and self-esteem as participants develop skills that enhance independence. This can help improve an individual's education, family relationships, friendships and so much more. It, in fact, promotes assimilation and acceptance for everyone in the larger community.
What's Community Integration?
Integration programs give individuals with disabilities a chance to be part of their community.
Integration is invaluable to all people. It promotes inclusion in the community. Unfortunately, individuals with disabilities have to work twice as hard to develop a strong community presence. Otherwise, they're left standing on the perimeter with a label.
What Can the Community Do?
Whether you're the local grocer or own a chain of stores, we all have the capability to help persons with disabilities live and enjoy their communities. To make integration work, persons with disabilities need equal access to:
· Health care
· Civic engagement
· Leisure and recreational play
· Social roles (parenting, marriage, etc.)
· Religion and spirituality
What Affects Integration?
Key factors that impact giving individuals with disabilities the tools they need to manage community integration include:
·Depth of the impairment or disability
·Accessibility to surroundings or lack thereof
·Access to assistive devices and tech
·The community's politics and underlying culture
·Support from family and community
Benefits of Local Services for the Disabilities
Regardless of a disability, everyone should have the opportunity to grow, utilizing whatever unique abilities and talents they possess. When we provide opportunities to engage, to learn, play and work with others, we:
· Help develop practical and social life skills
· Give those who feel unwanted and isolated a path to recovery
· Provide access to services unavailable in segregated environments
· Create a diverse community with unbiased intentions
· Promote good social behavior
· Help develop appropriate engagement skills in those who are not disabled
Examples of Activities Promoted by Local Services
Programs typically incorporate varying instruction, services and activities. Here are a few examples of what programs entail:
· Community sports leagues
· Business-sponsored sports teams
· Public transportation
· Visits to nature centers and local parks
· Youth organizations
· Involvement in school extracurricular activities
· Recreation center participation
· Attendance at sporting, concert or live cultural events
· Participation in faith communities
· Visits to historical societies and museums
· Volunteering at nonprofit and charitable organizations
Barriers to Integration
Here are ways to jump over obstacles standing in the way of community integration.
Structuring Programs Around Real-Life Skills
Working and playing with people with disabilities can only work if we know how to facilitate successful community integration that's inclusive. We cannot hone talent, strengths, interests and vision if we cannot pinpoint the best ways to help.
Advocating for programs and supporting local business that stand behind them has to be on the agenda. Advocating for the rights of individuals with disabilities is essential to successful integration. We also have to get persons with disabilities to learn to advocate for themselves. You want to emphasize they have a voice and should use it.
Being able to make informed, smart decisions alongside knowing how personal choices impact independence is crucial to self-determination. Understanding how to take full control over one's life is absolutely the best way to encourage community integration.
To learn more about community integration and how local services are vital to all people in our communities, click here.