And Summit listened. This summer, Summit embarked on an outreach initiative as part of our organization’s goal to expand peer support opportunities for people with disabilities.
For years Summit has provided formal peer counseling services in which a trained peer advocate is matched one-on-one with an individual who needs a positive role model, emotional support, or could benefit from practical information on adaptive equipment options, community resources, self advocacy skills, etc. However, we have also learned that a lot of informal peer support happens whenever people with disabilities get together, whether that be in a workshop, meeting, social event, or other activity where people have an opportunity to get to know each other. People have fun, share information, learn from one another, make friends, and begin to develop a sense of community.
We began our outreach efforts by facilitating a conversation with consumers throughout our five counties in order to find out what it is people want and need from us.
Almost unanimously, people said that they wanted more opportunities to socialize and have some fun. Most people reported having transportation barriers, lack of finances, and that they either did not know of events going on in the community, or that those events were not accessible to them.
So, in order to help serve our population better, we decided to try our hand at facilitating some fun.
The first event that we held was a barbeque/concert at Bonner Park, the First Annual Mike and Mary Wanted to Get Paid to Eat Potato Salad. We had no idea what to expect, but as soon as the event began, we quickly became aware that this is something that people want, need, and were highly responsive to. We had three nursing homes bring residents, along with consumers living in the community and their families totaling numbers over 160!
Now that it is apparent people want and need social activities, we have decided to try to make this something we provide quarterly for people.
The next fun activity is October 26th at 6:00 PM in the lower Hellgate High School Gym. Dress up, bring your families, your friends, or your supports! We are going to have SpectrUM there blowing up pumpkins and nitro-freezing ice cream for us. There will be a special bear from the University of Montana making an appearance at some point in the night as well! There will be music by James Green and Isaac M. (James also made an appearance at Bonner Park), facemask making with a VSA artist, pumpkin carving/decorating, massages with Virginia Bazo, CMT, food, fun, and more!
You won’t want to miss all of this fun, and it is completely free!!
If you would like more information, or would like to help with the event with planning, donations, or you have some great ideas, contact Mary Olson at 728-1630. There will be a donation can available at the event itself as well. We hope to see all of you ghosts and ghouls there!