Think of this scenario: you are traveling trying to find the right place, the place you are supposed to be, and the place you want to be. But you don’t have a map, there’s no one to ask for directions, and you end up on this twisty, dark, unfamiliar dirt road. But you keep going anyway and still feel hopeful in the face of fear and uncertainty that you’ll find the place anyway. This scenario faces many Pierce County families and persons with disabilities; however, there’s great relief and lovely fellow travelers found in a terrific, long standing program offered right here in our county.
The Community Inclusion Program has been in existence for nearly two decades serving the community. With three geographic chapters (Westside Pierce County, Eastside Pierce County, and Peninsula) and monthly gatherings in convenient locations, the program is available for “self-advocates,” families, friends, neighbors, and community members to share support, resources, and fellowship. Different topics that are dedicated to fostering better understanding, support, leadership, and activism serve as the meeting themes. Activities for children and youth, childcare, and food are provided. Click HERE, check out www.washingtonpave.org, or call 1-800-572-7368 for more information on the Community Inclusion Program. After my first experience with CIP, I am eager for the next gathering.
My son and I attended our first meeting on November 20th at the Clover Park Student Center. We were not sure what to expect; however, we were warmly welcomed and felt comfortable. My son joined the other kids for play, discussion, activities, and snacks. This normally shy child had a blast and was delighted to meet two other boys “just like him.” The adults introduced ourselves and listened to fascinating discussion on “people first” language (“people first, disability second”). The discussion was lead by three community activists, one being a “self advocate.” What impressed me was the number of teachers who attended the meeting on their own time and the siblings there supporting their family member. I was also impressed with the older kids and teens and the friendships and bonds that they have created with each other over the years, just from these meetings.
Check out this fine organization—it’s worth it. And as an added bonus, I’ll leave you with two things. First, a website and writings created by writer and activist Kathie Snow(I learned about her and the website at CIP). Disability is Natural (www.disabilityisnatural.com) will blow your mind with inspiration and understanding. It’s a MUST see for anyone. Second, check out President-elect Obama’s Disability Fact Sheet, written in people first language (http://www.barackobama.com/pdf/DisabilityPlanFactSheet.pdf).
Peace and Happy Thanksgiving, South Sound!