05 Sep Dispelling the Myth of Intellectual and Developmental DisABILITIES
by Angela Katz, development director, LARC
People with intellectual and developmental disabilities are just like you and me. They have goals and dreams, and they want to work, live and play in their community just like we do.
Some might think that’s not possible. We know different.
At LARC, we know a lot about disabilities. But we know even more about capabilities. We believe in limitless possibilities and the power of big dreams.
We were recently able to make a renovation dream come true in our ADAPT program. This project will provide staff and clients with an improved facility design and critically needed equipment to assure that client’s needs can be met in a safe and effective manner for years to come.
130 people attend LARC’s Day Training Program, Monday through Friday. One might presume that this is a “daycare” setting, with an institutional feel, where people sit and watch TV, bored to tears until 3:30 when the buses arrive to take them home. Allow me to debunk another myth.
In our ADAPT program, the majority of the participants have profound intellectual, developmental and physical disabilities. Nearly half are non-verbal and have limited mobility. Despite the disABILITIES, this where you will find a Cooking Club, Gardening Club, the best Karaoke Friday in town as well as the newest Walking Club. They are virtually walking across the state to Miami by logging a little over a mile each day and then charting their progress on a large map of Florida.
Across the parking lot, you will find the most enthusiastic workforce you have ever seen. With 38 local business partners outsourcing work to our clients, it keeps the place hopping. In fact, over 40,000 hours in wages were paid to individuals last year through our campus On the Job Training Workshop Program. It is not uncommon for an individual in our ADAPT program to “graduate” to the Workshop because of the skills and success they have achieved.
Watching loved ones achieve their goals and move towards independence is what every parent and sibling hopes for. Having programs like LARC available helps people learn the skills they need to be as successful and independent as their capabilities allow. Skills that we may take for granted like personal and community safety, social skills, communication skills, positive behaviors, workplace readiness, and on the job training.
I hope for you, me, our children and our grandchildren that there will always be a LARC. A place where people with unique capabilities can find fun and friendship, support and encouragement, achievement and acceptance. A place where people experience the dignity of work, pride in self-reliance and the power of a community that works together and lifts each other up.
For over 64 years, our programs have empowered every individual we support to dream and to achieve success at their own pace…at work, and at life. Providing services for all abilities in our community is essential. Being a part of the grantee tribe has been an amazing experience. It has been filled with support, guidance, training and collaboration. With the help of the SWFL Community Foundation we are transforming lives of those we serve while enriching all of us in the community.
This summer, Florida Weekly has graciously allowed us, the Southwest Florida Community Foundation, to spotlight the nonprofit organizations funded through the Foundation’s 2018 competitive grant cycle. We have asked these grantees to share their stories. We are pleased to partner with these change-makers.
About the Southwest Florida Community Foundation
The Southwest Florida Community Foundation, founded in 1976, cultivates regional change for the common good through collective leadership, social innovation and philanthropy to address the evolving community needs in Lee, Collier, Charlotte, Hendry and Glades counties. The Foundation partners with individuals, families and corporations who have created more than 400 philanthropic funds. Thanks to them, the Foundation invested $5.4 million in grants and programs to the community. With assets of $115 million, it has provided more than $71 million in grants and scholarships to the communities it serves since inception. The Foundation is the backbone organization for the regional FutureMakers Coalition and Lee County’s Sustainability Plan. Currently, the Southwest Florida Community Foundation’s regional headquarters are located off College Parkway in South Fort Myers, with satellite offices located on Sanibel Island, in LaBelle (Hendry County) and downtown Fort Myers. For more information, call 239-274-5900 or visit www.floridacommunity.com