Valuable Services to the Community Could be Lost if Funding Cuts Remain
Posted on April 18, 2011 by Stevi Young
The independent living philosophy says that people with disabilities are the experts on their lives and should therefore be trusted to make decisions that are best for them. Persons with disabilities should have the same options, freedom, right to participation in the community, self-determination, and choice and control over their lives, as everyone else.
Independent living centers such as Paraquad provide vital services to people with disabilities and their families, making it possible for them to live independently in the community and make decisions over their own lives. Not only do independent living centers provide necessary programs such as consumer directed services, but a wide variety of programs to help best meet the needs of participants. The peer support program pairs participants with mentors that have a similar disability and they share their experiences. This can help participants learn about various community resources and gain new skills all of which empowers them to live independently.
A variety of programs are available to help teach participants independent living skills. The transition program for instance, assists individuals who are transitioning from nursing homes, shelters or rehabilitation centers, into the community. Participants are paired with a specialist who helps them gain the skills they need and give them resources and support in order for them to make a safe and smooth transition. The information and referral department takes an estimated 500 calls per month from individuals seeking disability-related services in the St. Louis area. The information and referral specialists provide information and referrals to community resources to assist individuals in achieving independent living.
Other programs offered through Paraquad include accessible housing are available in which participants are assisted to find accessible housing. Employment programs are available to help participants in finding a job in the community. Paraquad also provides advocacy support to participants though policy advocacy as well as encourages them to advocate for themselves through such programs as the community advocates program that assists individuals with developing or enhancing independent living and advocacy skills. Accessible exercise, equipment repair, and college for living which offers a variety of educational and personal growth opportunities, are just a few other services provided at Paraquad as well as many others. If drastic funds are cut to centers for independent living in Missouri, vital services such as these will be lost that cannot be replaced.