Two members of the TDN staff presented to Michigan’s parks and recreation professionals last month at the annual mParks conference in Lansing.
Jessica Dixon and Tarah Holliman shared the values of inclusion and accessibility in their respective presentations and provided resources and tips for participants.
“My presentation was about how to create inclusive programming in the parks,” Holliman shared. She provided easy ways that parks and recreation departments can get behind this work, for example, “going into the community and asking people what they need, what they want, and creating programming based on that.” She continued that it could include existing programs as well.
For organizations and programs interested in looking at making their current programming more accessible, Holliman shared examples to help, “For instance, at registration, you ask about their accommodations, what they need to do the program.” Additionally, organizers can “make it known that you have accommodations available like interpreters or something simple like providing seating with armrests and seat backs.”
The Disability Network organizes a number of recreational workshops, classes, and experiences for Genesee County residents. Its biggest outdoor activity is the iKayak program. Holliman says that the program works well, “because it’s three organizations coming together to provide an experience that persons with and without disabilities can enjoy independently throughout the county.” The Flint River Watershed and Genesee County Parks coordinate iKayak with activities planned throughout the summer.
TDN Connect, an independent living skills and recreational activities program led by Holliman, also fosters social interaction and independence in the community. “Current participants have shared with me that they participate [in TDN Connect] for the social aspect because they reported not having many friends,” Holliman shared.
With a goal to foster people with disabilities living and thriving independently in the community, TDN Connect “provides a space for people to authentically be themselves, learn and understand their own disabilities, and also gain skills to improve and maintain independence in their lives.”