Choosey Consumers Choose ACT’s Community Integration Day Program
It seems like a simple idea, but we know of no other agency in the U.S. that provides the people they serve what ACT gives its individuals: choices, lots of choices. We're trailblazers. Truly. It doesn't happen by accident. It happens by design. Choice matters. It signals human autonomy. Too often individuals with intellectual, developmental or physical disabilities are overlooked when it comes to independence and choice, as expressed through personal preference and the right to select what makes them happy and fulfilled. Not at ACT. We know it's important. We write it down. We talk about it. We plan for it. We put systems in place to ensure it. We create an environment that nurtures it. We want to know what individuals want. Then we do it. We also evaluate satisfaction on a regular basis to make sure we are delivering services the way persons want us to. Sound familiar? Our historical leaders saw clearly the unalienable rights all of us have as a birthright, including liberty (freedom to choose) and the pursuit of happiness. So they wrote it down in the Constitution. They adopted it. They set up systems that would ensure these choices and freedoms were protected. It may sound lofty and ideal. But it's really rather practical. It's a matter of every day living out our intentions. Our Community Integration Program is designed to involve individuals in the community. Through activities that emphasize communication, recreation, self-help, volunteerism, personal hygiene and community participation, persons work on the goals they choose to accomplish. Over 100 persons participate in activities each week. On any given day individuals can choose from as many as 16 different activities. They express their choices by suggesting a menu of activities at monthly team meetings. Then, they select any particular daily activity through the ACT website. An example from a schedule one day this month included these activity options: grocery shopping, visiting Runge Nature Center, book club, coffee shop, fitness club, computer lab, planetarium, visiting the pet store, bowling, cleaning the van, volunteering at Red Cross, writing thank you cards, watching sports movies and making fruit smoothies. Last week 20 people went to the zoo and a dozen went swimming. We've gone to the Lake of the Ozarks and Mark Twain Lake. We go fishing and putt-putt golfing. When we stay in-house we do activities like make Easter crafts, play with the Wii, work puzzles, and make Mexican lasagna. We have the transportation (vans), the staff, and the funds for these activities because we value choice and we plan in advance to make choices available to the people we support. And it works. We see the successes as Community Integration individuals meet their goals.