Civitans advocate for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities to reach their fullest potential through the classroom, job experiences, and other continued learning.
WHY IS THIS IMPACT AREA IMPORTANT?
Historically, individuals with I/DD have often been excluded from their communities. However, they experience a number of benefits when fully included, and others in the community do too. Civitans have long believed in the value of inclusion, starting with their pursuit to start special education programs in schools. This is a value which continues to this day through club projects across the world, like contributing to the creation of accessible parks and playgrounds, and pulling out the power tools to build ramps so those using mobility devices can have easier access to their homes. It is our organization’s goal to support good quality of life for all through accessibility and inclusion.
RESOURCES & INFORMATION
- A Global Campaign to end the exclusion of people with disability from physical activity and all associated areas – Commit to Inclusion
- “Livable Communities for Adults with Disabilities” – National Council on Disability
- “Social Isolation: How to Make Communities More Accessible When ‘New Normal’ Begins” – BraunAbility
- “Making Our Lives Accessible” – EasterSeals
- “How to Improve Disability Accessibility in Your Community” – The Good Neighborhood
Civitans can enter the Accessible & Inclusive Communities space through a variety of impactful service projects and activities. Here are just a few examples:
- Help create sensory friendly environments in public spaces
- Contribute funding or equipment to the creation of accessible and adaptable playgrounds and parks
- Build wheelchairs ramps at private homes or public locations, or other accessibility enhancers
CLUBS MAKING AN IMPACT
COASTAL BEND CIVITAN CLUB
In partnership with the Coastal Bend Civitan Club, the City of Kingsville made some incredible changes to their parks. The City of Kingsville was able to make some swings more accessible for people with special needs. Thompson Park and Dick Kleberg Park now have therapeutic swing chairs and generational swing chairs. Club President, Sam Gonzalez Jr said, “It’s wonderful to have made these swings possible in our community. I’ve been out to the park when people are using the swings, and we’re getting so much positive feedback,” The specialized swings will allow children with developmental disabilities to have the same amount of fun as everyone that enjoys the local parks. Having special needs children of her own, President Elect Melissa Saenz’s family has greatly benefited from these swings sets and it’s allowed them more quality family time together in the park. “Great additions for special situations that allow kids to spend more time in the parks that don’t normally get to enjoy that,” Susan Ivy, parks director for the City of Kingsville. The Coastal Bend Civitan Club hopes to support additional projects in building on our accessible community for children with intellectual and developmental disabilities within the City of Kingsville and surrounding community.
PENSACOLA CIVITAN CLUB
In 1995, Pensacola Civitans reflected on the Civitan Creed and decided to do more to live out one particular line: “My hands do the work of the world and reach out in service to others.” The club began building wheelchair ramps for individuals in their community and to date, have built over 500 ramps! Recipients of a wheelchair ramp have ranged from children and adults living with developmental disabilities such as Cerebral Palsy, Multiple Sclerosis and more. Over the past 25 years, the club has received grants from corporations for the purchasing of supplies and continually seek funding from local businesses for the building of each ramp.
For more detail from the club on their ramp builds, click here.
For a primer on how to start your own ramp build, click here.
TOPEKA CIVITAN CLUB
For about 50 years, the Topeka Civitan Club has partnered with their local county’s parks & recreation department to operate Civitan Park & Day Camp. The day camp serves approximately 20-25 youth with intellectual/developmental disabilities each week for 6 weeks during the summer. When the camp is not in operation, the park play equipment is available to the general public to enjoy. The club assists the park/camp with purchasing new play equipment such as sensory play equipment and a climbing dome in addition to replacing existing equipment as needed. The club also sponsors scholarships for campers and purchases camp supplies each summer, such as arts & crafts supplies, snacks, drinks, etc. Prior to the start of camp, club members join with their local Junior Civitan Club and gather at the park for a “clean up day.”
GUNTERSVILLE CIVITAN CLUB
“When a member first saw a magazine article about an accessible playground back in 2011 we were inspired. We are Civitan, after all. Our community has a beautiful park and recreation area called, believe it or not, Civitan Park, donated to the city by a local club many years before. There was already a playground with slides and swing sets…but not for all children. We could fix that. We could help build a playground where children and their caregivers of all ability levels could laugh and play and find joy together. A safe and usable space for all children. We embraced this project with passion, with commitment. And we’d need that. We didn’t really have any money. We were a small club then but we approached the playground with optimism. We got drawings and estimates from a manufacturer after touring the factory, visited other accessible playgrounds around the state, and talked at length with the mayor and recreation department director. Then we wrote the narrative for a grant opportunity that would kick off Phase 1 – ground toys and swings on an ADA approved rubberized surface, a very expensive component. Between the grant, the city’s partnership, and support from a Rotary club and another Civitan organization it got done. That left Phase 2, a raised play structure with ramps that accommodate wheelchairs and other assistive devices. Same goal. To allow children and their caregivers of all abilities to play with family and friends in our beautiful community. No grant this time. We had holiday home tours, polar plunges, Brunswick stew sales, and onions. Of course onions. It took years and now we’re done. We are proud. Not just of the physical components of our playground, but of the principle behind it. The name says it all – ‘Every Child’s Playground’.”
– Guntersville Civitan Club Member
- Click here to download Accessible & Inclusive Communities Supports One-Pager
- Click here to download Accessible & Inclusive Communitites Horizontal Logo
- Click here to download Accessible & Inclusive Communities Round Logo
- Click here to find out more information about Club Project Grant Program
- Is your club already doing a project related to Accessible & Inclusive Communities? Click here to tell us more so it can be added to the Impact Area club project library!