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When we talk about social opportunities for people with developmental disabilities, we refer to it as “going out into the community” but as author Janet Klees notes, “we really shouldn’t frame it that way because we are the community”. Janet suggests that we think about developing our community relationships in terms of an “enduring presence”. People with developmental disabilities want and need meaningful relationships and friendships that exist outside of family and paid support staff.
Janet notes that “You cannot create relationship...but you can recognize, encourage, and design opportunities in which the miracle of friendship is more likely to occur”. Furthermore, Janet notes that in order to design and support such an opportunity or context to relationship, we need to pay attention to four things at one time:
- discovering community spaces
- ensuring regular, predictable presence
- designing and supporting valued roles (a reason to be there and contributing)
- connecting with other people
For example, you can join a club, fitness center, become a fan, become a member of a church group, become a student, volunteer, or offer a service.
This guide was created to help families find opportunities for community involvement that will build relationships and friendships. We included activities open to the public and those geared toward people with disabilities. Ensemble believes all community activities should be welcoming to everyone. Please email Ensemble at firstname.lastname@example.org to share your suggestions or any corrections to this guide.
Ensemble gratefully acknowledges Janet Klees’ contribution to this content adapted from her book, Our Presence Has Roots, 2005 found online at www.deohakeo.com
- Fantastic Fridays at the Vollmer
Family Respite Services (FRS), works in partnership with the Parks and Recreation department in LaSalle to offer support for a Friday night recreation program for older youth at the Vollmer Recreation Centre. The purpose of this program is to provide a fun evening, which gives a short break to the youth and the family. The program provides opportunity for the youth to participate in sport, recreation and physical activities, assisting them to develop skills and socialize with others. The Parks and Recreation staff run the program and FRS provides support staff to enable the youth to participate in the program. Currently they provide this program two Friday nights per month. Families pay a registration fee for the program to the Town of Lasalle. Access to the program is limited and must be arranged through the Family Coordinator at FRS, as a part of the overall respite service that we offer.
- LaSalle Spirit Club
Special Olympics – LaSalle, Spirit Sports Club provides athletic opportunities for persons with intellectual disabilities, ages 8+. Baseball, track and field, bowling, and hockey available. The goal is to bring athletes together for fun, friendship, and competition, but there are certainly some athletes who are not competitive that simply come out for the exercise and socialization.
- Dances & Special Event Nights at Knights of Columbus Hall
Dances are sponsored by the McGregor Squirettes of Mary under the guidance of Community Living Essex County. Participation: Age 16+. Location: Knights of Columbus Hall, 9560 Walker Rd, McGregor, ON N0R 1J0. Time: 7:30 pm-10:00 pm. Cost: $5.00, dinner additional cost. Tickets can be purchased in advance at Community Living Essex County, 372 Talbot St North, Essex. Payment with exact change or check at the reception desk. Contact: Nicole Meloche, (519)- 776-6483 Ext 221 or email@example.com at Community Living Essex County.
- Friendship Club
Friendship Club: a night for social activity for adults with disabilities age 18 years +. Support workers welcome. All religious denominations welcome. Evening usually begins with singing and music followed by a 10-15 minute bible story/lesson, time for sharing news, ending with a prayer and refreshments. The friendship club has been in operation over 25 years. Participation: adults with disabilities ages 18+ years, support workers welcome. Location: St Anne Church Parish Hall (Enter at the back door), 12233 Tecumseh Rd East, Tecumseh, ON. Time: Thursday evenings from 7:00 pm-8:30 pm, September –May. Cost: Free. Contact: Mary Rovers (519) 735-4632, firstname.lastname@example.org or Marion (Mame) Kenny (519) 973-0572 .
- District 5 Challenger-Windsor Little League Baseball
League for baseball players who are mentally or physically challenged aged 6-18 years old. Contact: Cathy at (519)735-9180.
- Harmony in Action Dinner Dance
Dinner and dance for adults with disabilities Participation: adults with disabilities ages 18+ years, support workers are required to attend. Location: Harmony in Action, 3335 Woodward Blvd, Windsor, Ontario, N8W 2Y7. Time: 3rd Friday of each month from 5:00 pm-8:00 pm, dinner starts at 5 pm, dance at 6 pm. Cost: $2 for dinner plus $2 for the dance. Contact: Harmony in Action (519) 252-1207.
- Hockey with Heart – for Children with ASD
Hockey with Heart is for children with ASD, 11 years old and younger, to learn and play hockey. Please email, email@example.com.
- Italian Canadian Handicapable Association (ICHA)
The ICHA Sports, recreation and conference center features indoor soccer, baseball, lacrosse, ball hockey, flag football, bocce ball, party rooms, and meeting/conference space. Social/recreational: bingo, arts and crafts, movie nights, dinners/dances and barbeques, open to all ages and abilities. Participation: Open to individuals with a physical or intellectual disability in Windsor and Essex County. Ages 8+ Location: 3939 Carmichael Drive, Windsor Ontario, N9C 0C3 (Novelletto Rosati Complex). Time: See website for more information, activities all year round. Cost: Membership fee; $25 for individuals, $40 for families (3+ members at the same address). Contact: (519) 977-1209 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
- LeeLee Hats
Learn to knit, crochet, or loom. LeeLee Hats is dedicated to providing NICU babies with soft, cozy, colorful hats, at no cost to the families. Hats are knitted and crocheted by volunteers who donate their time to our cause. With the help of fantastic volunteers and amazing local businesses, they host knitting clubs free to all in the community. To date, LeeLee Hats have donated over 12,812 beautiful hats to NICU babies, and strive to offer many more, for many years to come. They have over 140 active volunteers making hats to offer a healthy start for these babies in need at no cost to families. Please see their calendar of events and locations available throughout Essex County. Participation: Everyone. Location: contact LeeLee Hats for events/locations. Time: contact LeeLee Hats for times/locations. Cost: Free. Contact: Tracy Summerfield (226) 280-9114 or email@example.com .
- Windsor Special Olympics
Special Olympics Ontario is a non-profit, charitable organization dedicated to providing year-round sports training and competition opportunities for individuals with an intellectual disability. Sports activities offered are; bowling, curling, rhythmic gymnastics, swimming, and track and field. Participation: All individuals with intellectual disabilities.Location & Time: Varies depending on sport activity chosen. Contact: Cindy LaBrecque Community Coordinator at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Windsor Vista Gymnastics
Windsor Vistas Gymnastics is proud to offer an exclusive program to children with special needs. Our goal is to provide gymnastics training and competitive opportunities for athletes with intellectual or developmental disabilities. Participation: Programs available for children 12 and under, and children 12 and up. Children are welcome to have their workers attend their class. Location: 2996 Denzel Drive, Windsor, ON, N8W 5H8. Contact: Melynda Outram at (519)948-4386.
- Yoga for individuals with Down Syndrome
Participation: Women and girls with Down Syndrome. A parent, friend or support is always encouraged to attend and participate. Location and times will vary. Contact: Coco Nicole Daignault at email@example.com.