Working Wonders in Washington

Jun 06, 2024

Today’s newsletter spotlights the wonderful work I witnessed on a recent visit to the Washington DC area, where two specific organizations are striving to drive inclusion of people with disabilities.

I’m often frustrated and angry about what does and doesn’t happen in our nation’s capital. But my recent trip there left me feeling grateful and optimistic about progress and opportunities and the power of coming together and pioneering to support others.

Enjoy today’s newsletter – the first in March, which is National Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month. Join me in raising awareness of the many ways people with intellectual and developmental disabilities contribute to strong, diverse communities.

Together -- we’ve got this!

Connecting to build resilience and inclusion.

Recently, I was invited to speak about my new book, Embracing Another Normal, with parents and professionals in Rockville, MD. The discussion was robust, intimate, and rewarding – and I loved connecting with families to talk and learn about building resilience for the parenting journey. This event was hosted by and at an amazing organization called Main Street Connecta pioneer in the development of inclusive intentional communities. It was an honor and joy for me to witness the magic they’re creating first-hand.

According to the Main Street website, of the more than 5 million Americans with an intellectual or developmental disability (I/DD), 3.5 million live with their families. They are generally cared for by aging parents, who worry often about what will happen to their adult children when they’re gone. Main Street aims to change this.

The nonprofit brings together people with and without disabilities to create much-needed affordable, inclusive housing and community engagement. In addition to beautiful apartments with smart-house technology in an affordable complex and fully-inclusive community, they offer a wide variety of social, cultural, educational and wellness programs and events. The morning I visited, the place was abuzz with inclusive fitness, field trips, art exhibits, a store-front coffee shop, and much more. They conduct baking classes in their state-of-the-art communal kitchen, lease office and event space to community organizations, and recently hosted a highly-acclaimed foreign-policy expert for a lively discussion on the state of the world. Everything is open to everyone in the community – regardless of ability.

Everyone is encouraged to belong and thrive.

Like many wonderful initiatives in the world of disabilities, Main Street is the vision of two parents whose son has developmental disabilities. Jillian and Scott Copeland saw a need, rolled up their sleeves, and developed a creative solution to help families navigate the complexities of raising adult children with I/DD. And aren’t we lucky they did.

Check out this link for recommendations and resources from the Copelands and the amazing Main Street team, the nicest and most informative folks I’ve encountered in a long time. So grateful for such a great visit. 

If you’d like to explore hosting an event with me for your organization or community, please contact me below. I love collaborating with parents, educators, and other thought-leaders (virtually and “in real life”) and diving deeply into how we can build resilience and connection for ourselves and our families.

“It’s not just what you’re buying. It’s what you’re buying into.”

This old marketing slogan from Starbucks was originally created to help the company promote its support of sustainable coffee farms around the world. 15 years later, they appear to have turned their attention to a different kind of social impact:  accessibility for consumers and employees, particularly those with disabilities. I couldn’t be more pleased.

Just before leaving DC last week, I swung by Starbucks’ new location featuring aninclusive spaces framework” designed to “help expand independence, choice and ease for all people across physical and digital spaces.” The company says this framework will be adopted by all newly opened or remodeled stores across the country and is promoting it as “more accessible to disabled guests.”  

What struck me, however, is how great it is for employees, too. The barista who made my drink used a sign board to communicate due to hearing impairments. In fact, all the staff with whom we interacted used American Sign Language (ASL) to communicate with each other. What a wonderful thing to witness! And the service was great, too!

This newest location of Starbucks is located near the campus of Gallaudet  University, a global leader in the world of higher education through ASL. Founded in 1864 with the support of Congress and President Abraham Lincoln, Gallaudet offers collegiate-level instruction to students (including those who are deaf, hearing impaired) in a variety of disciplines.

Free webinar.

As addressed above, housing for adults with developmental disabilities is a major challenge for families across the U.S. That’s why I like to profile communities who are working to create solutions to this problem. Want to hear how the ARC of Jacksonville provides for folks in Florida? Use this link to register for a free webinar on March 14th from 1-2pm EST, hosted by Together for Choice.

Let’s get social.

Follow us on our new Facebook page for news and resources like those featured in this newsletter. Please also share this newsletter through email and social media with those who may benefit.

Reach out to me directly through my website to comment on topics of interest. I love hearing from readers and welcome your input and requests.

Interested in learning more about one-to-one coaching? Contact Kris for information on what this might look like for you, including outcomes, availability, fees and more.

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