Montgomery, M.S.,CTRS and Alayne Kazin,M.A., CTRS
people with and without disabilities participating in recreation together!
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires that parks and recreation
programs and services are provided in the "most integrated setting."
Although the term "Integration" is used throughout the ADA, "Inclusion"
has become the word which is most commonly associated with the concept of
integrating persons with disabilities into general services (school, community,
fundamental to the purpose of the ADA. Despite the existence of separate or
special programs designed to provide a benefit to persons with disabilities,
these programs cannot be used to restrict the participation of persons with
disabilities in general activities.
to a philosophy that goes well beyond non-discrimination and takes a proactive
approach to including all people in all programs and services. For parks and
recreation departments, an inclusive approach involves actively promoting
general programs to people with disabilities and planning ahead for their
|Two guys loving Teen Camp
The ability to
develop and implement programs, meeting the needs of all citizens is the ultimate
measure of success. All employees share in the responsibility for including
people with disabilities. Each staff member, can promote inclusion by conveying
an attitude of acceptance and willingness to accommodate.
Inclusive programs benefit everyone! In addition to the benefits
to those with disabilities, inclusive programs help everyone to
become more sensitive to individual differences. This awareness
and sensitivity to individual differences will hopefully lead to
attitudes of acceptance, which carry over to all areas of life.
Cincinnati Recreation Commission
The Cincinnati Recreation Commission (CRC) was created in 1926 to serve the
citizens of Cincinnati and now serves the greater metropolitan area
of the City of Cincinnati, Hamilton County, and the Tri- State Area
(Cincinnati, Northern Kentucky & Indiana), with a total population
of one million people.
CRC currently operates:
- 31 Community Centers
- 20 Senior Centers
- 46 Pools
- 7 Golf Courses
- approximately 242 full time employees
- approximately 1500 part- time employees
The CRC began serving individuals with disabilities in 1967, originating
as a consulting service to area nursing homes. This service evolved
into the Division for the "Ill and Handicapped." This
eventually became the Division of Therapeutic Recreation, representing
the connection with the TR process. Therapeutic Recreation has offered
a wide variety of specialized programs for individuals with disabilities.
Since the passage of the ADA in 1990, the Division of Therapeutic
Recreation has advocated the "Recreation for All" philosophy
and began educating its employees about the ADA.
|Inclusion support assistance is sometimes provided
as a reasonable accommodation.
The "Inclusion Team" is aligned under the Division of Therapeutic
Recreation. The Inclusion Coordinator and an Inclusion Specialist
provide the primary structure for the Inclusion Team within the
Division. Both staff working to promote the efforts of inclusion
are Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialists (CTRS). Supplemental
support includes part-time staff who also provide inclusion support
assistance. The ultimate goal of the Inclusion Team is to assist
participants with disabilities participating in existing programs.
The Inclusion Team also extends beyond the Inclusion Coordinator and Inclusion
Specialist. Inclusion efforts would not be successful without the
cooperation and dedication of our community center staff who serve
children with disabilities within their programs. Success has also
been achieved through proactive parenting, collaboration with the
school systems and community service agencies.
The Inclusion Team strives to excel in seven key components in the delivery
of inclusion services.
1. Inclusion Support Within Community Centers
The Inclusion Specialist will facilitate the process of inclusion by using
a variety of techniques to assist in the transition to general programming.
The Inclusion Specialist utilizes the Therapeutic Recreation Process
(Assessment, Planning, Implementation, and Evaluation) to successfully
achieve these goals. Once the techniques are understood and implemented
the Inclusion Specialist's role changes from direct to indirect
Possible accommodations include:
- Adaptive Equipment/ Adaptation of Activities
- Behavior Support Plan
- Individualized Disability Awareness Training for Staff
- Architectural Accessibility
- Increased Supervision (Inclusion Support Assistant)
- Personal Care
2. Disability Awareness Program
In order to promote a healthy inclusive environment, and foster a climate
of acceptance and support for people with disabilities, the Inclusion
Team created a Disability Awareness Program (DAP). This educational
program was designed to teach school age children (ages 7-8) about
various disabilities they may encounter in the community.
Goals for the Disability Awareness Program include:
- To introduce and promote "people first" language and vocabulary
related to specific disabilities.
- To increase awareness that people are different in many ways and the differences
should not act as a barrier to friendship and acceptance.
- To increase knowledge of various types of disabilities such as vision,
speech, hearing, motor, cognitive, and behavioral impairments.
- To simulate different types of disabilities and increase participant sensitivity.
- To introduce various types of adapted equipment and assistive technologies
available for people with disabilities.
- To promote social acceptance and encourage friendship development.
3. Staff Training
Many of the staff within our organization have had little previous experience
working with people with disabilities. Therefore, the Inclusion
Team takes the opportunity to educate the staff on how to program
for individuals with disabilities. Staff development takes two forms;
formal training and individualized training.
Formal educational sessions are generally offered during pre-season training
(summer day camp). At this time of the year, the organization is
orienting approximately 242 seasonal staff. Inclusion staff will
facilitate in-services on the fundamentals of inclusion, behavior
management, provide adaptations, and non-violent crisis intervention.
Individualized training occurs when a child with a disability is enrolled
into a general program. Inclusion staff provide the community center
staff with information (verbal and written) about the disability
and the implications for recreation.
4. Internal & External Marketing
The Inclusion Team works to promote a welcoming attitude to people with disabilities
through all facets of marketing. All of our literature (brochures,
calendars) for the public includes a statement indicating a willingness
to accommodate individuals with disabilities. Including this accommodating
statement makes our facilities and programs more inviting to participants
In addition to promoting inclusion to the public, efforts are made to promote
inclusion to the staff at the community centers. We accomplish this
through monthly newsletters, Inclusion Awards, e-mails, flyers,
etc. We believe if we continuously promote the ethical, legislative
and beneficial reasons for inclusion; the staff will follow in our
|(Top) Kids clowning around for
|(Bottom) Children with and without
disabilities playing at summer day camp.
Above all, the Inclusion Team serves people with disabilities. We are a voice
within the organization advocating for equal access to individuals
with disabilities. Our role is to break down attitudinal, architectural,
and programmatic barriers for individuals with disabilities who
want to take part in our programs at the Cincinnati Recreation Commission.
As we continue to work towards making existing programs (i.e. After-School
Day Camp and Summer Day Camp) more accessible to individuals with
disabilities, we will begin to break ground for Therapeutic Recreation
staff to facilitate programming side by side with general programmers.
Our initial "pilot program" was attempted through a summer
day camp program in 2001. Through this experience, we had the opportunity
to evaluate our strengths and weaknesses of implementing an integrated
7. Inclusion Council
As the Inclusion Team acts as an advocate for inclusion; it is ultimately
the responsibility of the community centers to successfully facilitate
the process. Teamwork is the best approach to successful inclusion.
Our approach to the development of a partnership on inclusion is
through the "Inclusion Council." This council consists
of approximately 8-10 representatives from various community centers
who work with the Inclusion Team to assist in the decision-making
issues within inclusion. The Inclusion Council meets at least once
a month to discuss issues which may arise in programming for individuals
with disabilities. It is also an opportunity to empower the staff
to be more involved with inclusion in the field of recreation. In
addition, the Council will give input as to what is and is not working
with the inclusion process.
Sam is a 7-year-old with Cerebral Palsy who registered for a summer day camp
program at one of our community centers. Upon registration, his
mother indicated that her child had a disability and would need
accommodations to participate in the program. The staff at the community
center had Sam's mother complete the Assessment and Accommodation
Form and staff contacted the Inclusion Coordinator to provide assistance
for the case.
Sam was thoroughly assessed by an Inclusion Specialist prior to the beginning
of the program through phone conversations, e-mails with mom, site
visits to his classroom, and a site visit at the community center.
Sam was extremely excited to attend the camp. At the same time mom
was extremely nervous about the new environment for her child.
|Sam having fun at Summer Camp.
Some of the issues that needed to be taken into consideration included:
- The community center was an older facility with accessibility issues.
- Sam is ambulatory, though his gait is unsteady. Therefore, the stairs
were a concern for parents. To accommodate for this safety concern,
we added a railing on the right side of the stairwell (there was
an existing railing already on the left side). Sam was also able
to use a wagon when ambulating long distances (i.e. walking to
the pool or walking during a field trip).
- The Cerebral Palsy effects Sam's right side, therefore causing weakness
in right extremities (arm & legs). Sam needs assistance/adaptations
for fine motor activities (i.e. art activities, opening/closing
containers, and assistance with dressing). To accommodate for
these areas, the Inclusion Specialist conducted an in-service
to educate the center staff on how to work with and adapt for
a child with Cerebral Palsy.
- As an additional accommodation, Sam's aquatic instructors were trained
by the Adapted Aquatics Coordinator in techniques to adapt Sam's
- Sam had a successful experience at the inclusive summer day camp program.
He attended day camp three days a week, participating in all of
the activities. The Inclusion Specialist observed Sam periodically
throughout the summer to determine if the center staff needed
additional assistance. Contact was also maintained throughout
the summer with Sam's parents.
- Sam increased his socialization skills and developed friendships with
the other kids within his group. Sam thoroughly enjoyed playing
sports with the other kids at camp. The kids and staff created
great ways to adapt the games for Sam to actively participate.
According to Sam's mother, he will begin participating in Therapeutic
Recreation programs to refine some of his skills (i.e. adapted
aquatics), and he will also be registering for summer day camp
again at the community center.
Raymond is a 15-year-old with a developmental delay and ADHD who registered
for teen camp at a community center. His caregiver at his group
home indicated Raymond had a disability and would need additional
support in order to participate. The community center called the
Inclusion Team for assistance in providing accommodations to include
Raymond. A meeting was scheduled with Raymond, his caregiver and
the Inclusion Specialist to complete his "Assessment and Accommodation
Form" and to begin the inclusion process.
After a complete assessment by the Inclusion Specialist and review of his
IEP (Individualized Education Plan) several issues emerged for Raymond.
- Teen Camp will be an active program at the community center with teens
taking trips to water parks, museums, parks, bowling and camping
4 to 5 days per week.
- Raymond is ambulatory and very slight for his age. He weighs about 75
lbs. soaking wet! He has difficulty with hand eye coordination
and fine-motor skills.
- Raymond is incontinent of bowel and bladder and wears diapers. He needs
assistance with toileting, opening/closing containers, and keeping
track of his personal belongings during the day.
- Due to the developmental delay, Raymond needs prompting and encouragement
to participate in the activities with the other teens in camp.
Some of the activities will need to be adapted to allow for his
participation or alternative activities created when he chooses
not to participate.
- In addition, his caregiver shared some behavioral issues that Raymond
engaged in when angry or upset, such as spitting.
- To plan for a successful inclusion experience a decision was made to provide
a one-to-one inclusion assistant (ISA) to accommodate his needs.
- The Inclusion Specialist provided training for the ISA and the center
staff regarding children with developmental delay and how to make
adaptations. Disability awareness training for the non-disabled
teens in camp was also provided.
Raymond had a great inclusive experience at the teen camp. He attended
camp daily and participated in many adventures for the first time.
He loved overnight camping, the wave pools and bowling. His teen camp
peers encouraged him throughout the summer, and his winning smile
made him a favorite with all the girls in camp. The Inclusion Specialist
made frequent visits to the center and outing sites to evaluate the
effectiveness of his Inclusion Support Plan. His caregiver was extremely
pleased with Raymond's progress as he had reduced his occurrences
of undesirable behavior to just one episode during the entire time
he was enrolled in teen camp.
How can you advocate for Recreation Inclusion?
- Offer to establish an Advisory Board or Inclusion Task Force at your Parks
& Recreation Department to represent the needs of participants
- Develop professional relationships with other agencies within your community
to establish linkages to provide supports & accommodations
to public recreation programs.
- Become an ADA advocate and pass on your knowledge about this law at your
- Utilize resources about the ADA such as the ADA hotline (800)
949-4232 through the regional Disability and Business Technical
Assistance Centers and the National Center on Accessibility (812)
- Attend a NIRI Conference (National Institute for Recreation Inclusion)
and network with departments who have for inclusion programs.
- Initiate staff training opportunities for working with people with disabilities
and developing a " Yes First " attitude.
- Evaluate present facilities for accessibility and promote ADA compliance
for all new construction.
- Develop marketing strategies to communicate and inform potential participants
with and without disabilities about services, programs and activities
in your Department.
- Establish registration procedures that make it easy for people with disabilities
to register and request an accommodation.
- For many individuals with disabilities, a feeling of acceptance is the
most important accommodation. If staff members demonstrate an
attitude of acceptance and welcoming, the experience can be positive
Cincinnati Recreation Commission
805 Central Ave, Suite 800
Cincinnati, OH 45202
National Center on Accessibility
2805 East 10th St, Suite 190
Bloomington, IN 47408
(812) 856-4422 (voice)
(812) 856-4421 (tty)
About the Authors
Stephanie Montgomery, M.S.,CTRS, is the Inclusion Coordinator for the Cincinnati
Recreation Commission Division of Therapeutic Recreation. Alayne
Kazin,M.A., CTRS, the Inclusion Specialist for the Cincinnati Recreation
Commission Division of Therapeutic Recreation.
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