The Ability Center began as a rotary initiative that served kids with polio in 1920. Throughout the agency’s 100 years of service, programming has evolved to meet the current needs of youth and adults with disabilities. Our agency serves as a hub of information and referral network for those looking for resources for all ages and disabilities.
We serve people with disabilities through advocacy work, training, and placing of assistance dogs; providing durable medical equipment and assistive devices including walkers, wheelchairs, and bathroom equipment; and constructing home modifications like ramps, stairlifts, and grab bars to ensure safety in the home. For more information on our programs or disability-related resources, visit abilitycenter.org or call 419-885-5733.
Programming is offered to youth up to age 26 and their families to support independent living goals through best practices and partnerships with schools, service agencies, and community organizations. Staff work with youth to develop goals in the areas of recreation, transition, employment, and independent living. Free interactive classes are offered to youth and young adults to develop skills for independent living, competitive employment, or community-based living. Classes run on a school calendar and include topics of employment preparation, independent living, cooking and nutrition, financial management, personal safety, self-advocacy, sex education, social skills, leadership development, and volunteering.
Monthly recreation events take youth out in the community to have fun—while also giving them opportunities to engage with their peers. Staff focus on setting boundaries with others, including identifying personal space, promoting healthy relationships, safe social media usage, and developing healthy habits.
Youth with disabilities who receive job training skills become adults with disabilities who are competitively employed. Curriculum is based around honing skills that connect the person’s capabilities and interests to opportunities in the workforce. Staff conduct interest testing, mock interviews, and professional networking to prepare youth for competitive placements as they enter adulthood.
Self-advocacy and leadership
Learning to ask for what you need is an important part of self-advocacy. Elements of self-advocacy are implemented in each of the life-skills classes. Students learn to advocate for themselves in educational, work, medical, and social settings. This is achieved through education, group discussion, and role play. Youth learn how to use assertive communication, ask for appropriate accommodations, and both set and respect boundaries.
Launching in summer 2020, The Ability Center will offer extended leadership training classes, participation in a youth forum, and collaboration with other local organizations that focus on developing young leaders. The Ability Center was selected to host this week-long forum for current juniors and seniors in high school with a disability who want to advance their leadership skills. Interested youth should contact The Ability Center for more details. ❦