We all have different abilities. Too often, focus is placed on what we can’t do. At Carmel Clay Parks & Recreation (CCPR) we believe in shifting the focus to what we can do. By focusing on and celebrating abilities, rather than disabilities, we can encourage everyone to be the best they can be – including all in the fun and creating a culture of inclusion.
A mission of inclusion
Carmel Clay Parks & Recreation was founded in 1991 to serve the nature and fitness needs of the Carmel and Clay Township communities. The term “community” is all encompassing. It includes people of all ages, abilities and backgrounds – including those with disabilities. We believe everyone should have the same opportunity to participate in leisure activities – especially activities that allow everyone to perform at their highest ability. As an organization we work hard to develop and implement inclusive programming and facilities that allow everyone in our community an equal opportunity to shine and enjoy our park system.
Adaptive programming makes fun accessible
We have offered inclusive programming for more than 20 years. We’re dedicated to including everyone in everything we do. One way we do that is through adaptive programming. Our adaptive programs are designed specifically for individuals with disabilities. These programs are thoughtfully developed based on community needs. In 2018, we offered more than 200 adaptive programs and served more than 2,500 participants. Our inclusion supervisor and her team work diligently to keep our adaptive programming in line with – and ahead of – industry trends. Programming includes sensory-friendly events, respite nights, as well as therapies, creative arts, sports and more. Adaptive programs teach independence, self-awareness and self-exploration. They also offer a place for kids and their families to create a community.
“Through our programs, individuals with disabilities have the opportunity – just like everyone else – to enjoy a fun activity, learn something new and build a community,” said Michelle Yadon, CCPR inclusion supervisor.
Modifications make recreation + fitness accessible
Every season we offer hundreds of seasonal programs. Based on our philosophy that recreational programming is for everyone all of our programs are inclusive. If your child is interested in using the Monon Community Center or participating in one of our programs, staff will conduct an assessment to determine what accommodations and modifications are needed to fit your child’s needs. If deemed necessary, CCPR staff can work with your child one-on-one.
“Our modification process is beneficial because it eliminates boundaries on our participants,” Yadon said. “Whatever program your child wants to participate in, we work to make it possible for them.”
Implementing universal design
Inclusion doesn’t stop at our front door. Have you heard of universal design? It is the process of designing buildings, products and environments that are accessible to all people, regardless of age, ability or other factors. Beyond our programs, you’ll find that we are cognizant of and try to be inclusive in everything we build! Outside, you’ll find universal design throughout our parks, facilities and trails. River Heritage, Westermeier Commons and the new Inlow Park playgrounds (opening soon) all offer accessible play features.
Don’t stop there, learn more
You can learn more about our adaptive programs and modification process on our website. Visit carmelclayparks.com/programs/adaptive to engage, connect and learn more!