An intern’s perspective:
Integration, activity, and resourcefulness fuel EBI’s Community Day Support (CDS) program. Monday through Friday, you can find CDS program participants immersed in community life. From delivering meals to low-income seniors, to taking part in yoga, dance, and cooking classes, to visiting museums, etc., young adults with cerebral palsy and other developmental disabilities in the CDS program eagerly engage in the activities they choose.
What makes this community-integrated program work so well? In addition to the determination and energy of the individuals served, most of whom need ongoing support with mobility, communication, and/or self-care,CDS Community Living Assistants (CLAs) make it possible for each participant to access a wide range of Bay Area resources. These conscientious CLAs routinely assist each individual with various daily activities – communicating, eating, and traveling around the East Bay on public transit, etc. The strong personal relationships CDS staff build with consumers enable them to understand their wants, needs and preferences. Because most CDS participants communicate non-verbally, this personal relationship plays a vital role in making sure they are never in discomfort and that their input is recognized. Staff engage in activities together with consumers, creating safe environments in the community with opportunities to embrace new, challenging experiences.
To picture the uniqueness of CDS, imagine the World Dance Class, taught at the Ed Roberts Campus in Berkeley, where participants and assistants dance freely – and exuberantly – to different musical genres, from Latin to jazz. This class welcomes all, and individuals are free to dance at their own pace, in their own style. Visualize CDS participants stretching on yoga mats in a cozy room alongside members of La Pena Cultural Center, a community where diversity and intercultural understanding is encouraged. Or, imagine CDS consumers and staff, in pairs, delivering Meals on Wheels to homebound elders who greatly appreciate not only the meals they’re receiving, but their regular connection with the individuals bringing their food, as well.
What strikes me most about the CDS program is how truly attainable its goal of community integration is. There are people around the world — with and without disabilities — who have the desire to be part of the life of their community. For a small group of individuals in Alameda County, California with significant disabilities and complex support needs, the CDS program makes this possible.
Tom Heinz, EBI’s Director, adds:
At the same time that we see, every day, the powerful impact of community integration on the lives of individuals with disabilities, today we’re faced with a threat of reduced Medicaid funding for community-based services. Assistive technology, transportation, and in-home services are just a few of the resources that could be affected if existing Federal/State Medicaid partnership dollars are reduced and shifted to block grants, to be borne entirely by the State.
The historic disability rights movement fought long and hard so that individuals with significant disabilities, not unlike those of our CDS participants, would have the services they needed to live in the community and not routinely be placed in institutions. EBI is committed to moving forward, despite these unpredictable times, to ensure that community-based resources are available to individuals with disabilities. Your ongoing generosity helps make this possible.