GCDD Takes a Real Communities Learning Journey to Kalamazoo

Learning Journey to Kalamazoo

The Georgia Delegation from GCDD and the Korean Coalition ventured to Kalamazoo, MI on Sunday, Nov 27th for a learning journey on inclusive youth programs.

Arcadia Institute is the organization that hosted our group.  They have been the driving force behind supporting community organizations in embracing inclusion.

Our group attended their monthly network meeting where they were planning their upcoming forum with John McKnight.  There was lively dialogue with all the members talking about the Real Communities Initiative, personal futures planning, creating a culture of inclusion and examples of accommodations and successes.

We were able to tour a variety of the community programs including the camp at Sherman Lake where a 6th grade class was learning about building communities ... lessons to take back to their school and make it a better place to learn.  We also went to the Maple St Y, the Boy Scout Office and the Girl Scout Building and the Kalamazoo Nature Center.  Each organization is very passionate about their commitment to inclusion for ALL young people.

Allison Hammond and George Martin of Arcadia Institute helped share the history and progression of the community movement toward inclusion in Kalamazoo.  Building a strong collaborative network has been the key.  It is a full-time role to provide the support needed to nurture the organizations, so they can all be successful in welcoming young people with disabilities.  Organizations are learning what it takes and gaining the capacity and competence within their agencies.  Each member of the network shares their successes and announces what upcoming programs and events they are sponsoring.

We were off again on Tuesday to visit the mental health/developmental disabilities agency that funds Arcadia Institute's supports, the boys and girls club and the public library.

One of the best parts is having young people from Georgia with us to see the programs from their perspective.  Peter An, Sunny Kim, Lisa Yoo, Aarti Sahgal and Dottie Adams have had a great learning journey in Kalamazoo.

Dottie Adams