In an attempt to break the mold of secluded recreation, Grand Island and Kearney are working together to give all children a chance to have an exciting summer.
Kristen Larsen, executive director of The Arc of Buffalo County, received a grant from the NE Planning Council on Developmental Disabilities to mentor another Nebraska community or agency to replicate the Kearney Inclusive Recreation Project -- an inclusive recreation model for persons with developmental disabilities in Kearney.
Larsen chose Grand Island.
One of the partners of the program includes the city's Parks and Recreation department. Todd McCoy, the department's director said, "There have been families that have hesitated to sign up for some programs because they don't know if their child can participate."
McCoy said they're pleased to take part in the Grand Island Inclusive Recreation project.
Some other participating groups include: the Grand Island YMCA, Grand Island Public Schools, Boy Scouts of America and The Arc of Central Nebraska.
Grand Island's ‘Independence Rising' will help the partner groups find trained volunteers to work one-on-one with kids with all sorts of disabilities.
Larsen said they chose to mentor Grand Island and provide training because "we knew it needed to fit the culture of the community and we needed folks who were excited and willing to partner with this vision."
The concept of inclusive recreation is based on providing necessary accommodations so every person (with or without a disability) can benefit equally from a typical recreation experience in their community.
The model makes it possible for people with disabilities to not depend solely on specialized programs or reverse inclusion programs, but to pursue inclusive recreation programs already in place in their community.