Building Community

Building Community

Building Community is supporting people in making and sustaining connections with others in their communities, it is not just a disability issue. It’s connecting people with one another and teaching humanity.

When a community is made up of people who are interdependent with each other and utilizes the natural resources that already exist, then the lives of its people are less dependent on the availability of services. This interdependence is of higher value than independence because people can count on each other. When they do have a need it can be met from others who know and care about them and not dependent on paid professionals and dwindling government supports.

Excluding people from the community, requiring them to enter segregated facilities to meet their needs, as opposed to meeting their needs in the community, reduces the individual’s quality of life, as well as the overall quality of the community as a whole. Expanding each person’s circle of friends, supports and connections enhances their quality of life and enhances their capability to contribute to society using their abilities.

Many of us believe that when
some people are excluded from the social fabric
of our communities, that fabric contains a hole.
When the fabric  contains a hole, the
entire fabric is weakened.
It lacks the richness, texture and  strength of diversity
Author unknown

One out of five Americans has a disability, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Fifty percent of all people will have some type of disability during their lifetime, and almost everyone will know or care about someone who has or will have a disability.  Disability is a natural condition of the human experience. It should not be viewed as a deficiency, but as having specific needs. Each person’s needs make up the community’s needs and each person’s contribution adds to the richness of the whole community. The overall quality of a community is dependent on the quality of life for each individual who makes up that community.

Creating accessible communities that are able to meet a variety of needs, not only benefits those who have disabilities or those who will acquire disabilities, it benefits everyone in the community. Things like curb cuts, help the delivery person, the caretaker pushing a baby stroller, the couple moving into a new home, as well as the person who uses a wheelchair. Removing barriers both physical, social, and others allows people to use their abilities and contribute to society. It gives everyone access to things we value and it acknowledges that we value everyone in our community.

Inclusion communicates something more than “integration”. It means
people participating in families, schools, (and classrooms), in workplaces,
and in community life. “Inclusion” implies that people are welcomed, that
each person reaches out to include another person. Inclusion is different
from “letting in” or “adding on.” Inclusion conveys the idea that we
appreciate each other, that we see each other’s gifts, that we value being
together. Inclusion speaks to the importance of relationships
TASH Newsletter (June, 1990)

Written by Colleen F. Tomko
Material Copyrighted 1996 Kids Together, Inc.
This material may be copied for non-profit use only. Please notify us of your intentions.

Additional Resources

Medicaid Can’t Wait – Home Is in the Community With the Services to Thrive

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Information & Resources for People with Disabilities

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