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April and May were jam packed with new members and activities!  We were happy to welcome several new members to the center in the last couple months and have spent time getting to know them.  Our small tools and home improvement unit was a hit with all the members.  They had the opportunity to get hands on with basic tools and learned the basis of home maintenance, including; how to change a light bulb, plunge a toilet, make a bed, and how to maintain a home smoke detector.  The highlight of the unit was definitely getting to build personal pencil holders and working together to make the center a Plinko board!  Finished product is coming soon. A friend of Inclusion also inspired both members and staff to appreciate our uniqueness during Autism Awareness Month.  Each of us worked to find images and words that had meaning to us personally for an individual puzzle piece.  Puzzle pieces are now being assembled into an infinity symbol to symbolize infinite variations and possibilities that represent inclusion and diversity.



OUT AND ABOUT IN THE COMMUNITY

We would like to give a special thanks to the Little Chute Piggly Wiggly’s staff and customers for being more than accommodating each week as we have worked to navigate grocery shopping semi-independently.  Inclusion has utilized the bus system each Thursday over the past 9 months that has a direct line to the “Pig” as we call it.  Members have worked with staff to understand the layout of the store and each has had individual goals ranging from appropriate voice level to reading and finding each item on our weekly shopping list. 



UPCOMING EVENTS

Inclusion has many exciting upcoming events!  Our most recent update is, we were able to get a center van.  We will continue to utilize public transportation in addition to our own transportation.  The van will be utilized for members' daily activities in the community that we were unable to get to due to bus schedules or routes.  We will also be offering transportation to and from the center for members to cut down on pick up and drop off clusters we have run into as the year has progressed.  We are also looking at fundraising opportunities to receive donations to support member outings and materials.  





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March was all about encouraging independent living for our afternoon crew. We worked on things like identifying junk mail versus real mail and identifying emergencies versus non-emergencies. We also added a few new members to our group, so we’ve been getting to know them and helping them learn our schedules. Our morning crew has been working on cooperation through games and chores, as well as books, crafts and activities for our themed weeks (Dr. Suess, Saint Patrick’s Day, career/work, Easter). We also added music to our day from Thrive Music Therapy. Our teacher, Leah, will be visiting us every other week. With the weather slowly warming, we are also taking more walks and adventures around downtown Kaukauna.



OUT AND ABOUT IN THE COMMUNITY

This month we wanted to take a moment to give VPI’s School District Transition Services a shout-out and a big thank you. Several of our half-day members spend the other half of the day working on job skills at the various VPI partners. We’d especially like to thank the Youth Employment Specialist Alex Browne, who has been a huge help in making the transition between work and Inclusion as smooth as possible. We wish him all the best in his next endeavors.


UPCOMING EVENTS

Jake’s Network of Hope is hosting a diaper drive. As fellow members of HYPE through the Fox Valley Chamber of Commerce, we would like to support this awesome organization by participating in the diaper drive as well. We will be gathering diaper packs and/or monetary donations from April 15th-May 7th. If you would like to donate, drop off anytime during our hours (8am-3pm), or send with members.  We appreciate your support in this awesome event.




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Happy February! Please consider adding a comment here or on our Facebook page in response to the questions at the bottom of this post.


In January, we worked on start-of-year preparations. Many of our friends made vision boards of things we’d like to focus on this year. We then moved onto creating an emergency information cheat sheet. The goal for this was to create independence for our clients on all levels. For those using a speaking device, we are working on adding in emergency information so that in the event a caregiver wasn’t available, they could successfully communicate any needs they would have. For those who are already more independent, we created a “cheat sheet” so that they could use it to fill out forms like job applications or answer questions at a doctor’s office.






Mid-January, coinciding with the change in semester, we made a few schedule changes to better meet the needs of our clients. The transition has been incredibly smooth and so beneficial to both staff and clients.


February afternoon clients have moved into banking and budgeting to help them plan for life on their own. They are also working on identifying the different types of relationships we have in our lives (family, coworkers, romantic, friends, etc) using Disney/Pixar shorts and discussions. Our morning clients have themed weeks that include short videos learning about the themes, crafts, and games.





OUT AND ABOUT IN THE COMMUNITY

This month’s shout out is to Kaukauna Coffee and Tea. Our clients went in January, and the staff was so accommodating and patient as we practiced polite interaction in a new setting. We will definitely be going again, and soon. Stop in and say thanks for us (we recommend getting a coffee too).


DID YOU KNOW? WHAT SHOULD WE KNOW?

This month, we are asking for your feedback. The Inclusion staff has been considering the expansion of our social media presence to push the idea of an inclusive community to a larger audience. One of our ideas is to demonstrate what to–or not to–do when interacting with an individual with disabilities.


For example, one of our clients told us he hates dealing with customers at his workplace because, instead of treating him like any other individual, they comment on how well he can do his job with only one hand. Bringing awareness to the idea that they’d like to be treated like everyone else rather than highlighting their abilities or disabilities is such an important message to create a welcoming community around our clients.


We plan on getting more feedback from our clients, but we would love your input as well. When interacting with your loved one, what things would you like people in the community to do more? What things would you like people to do less?


Enjoy sharing some productive feedback as much as one of our members enjoys watching the new bubble tube he helped fill!




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