Of the Community: Eight Stories of Community Living, Participation, and Inclusion

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A film telling the stories of eight individuals with disabilities who have vibrant lives in which they live and participate in their communities in the ways they choose. Their stories illustrate the power of respect, imagination, flexibility, high expectations, and commitment to providing truly individualized, person-centered supports. Those have been found to be the keys to supporting people with intellectual and developmental disabilities to be truly in and of their communities.

Their stories may be personal, but they reflect decades of social progress and ongoing challenges. Forty years ago, large institutions that warehoused thousands of people with disabilities were common. Today, most people with intellectual and developmental disabilities in the U.S. live in their communities with their families, in group homes, or in houses and apartments with needed supports. However, while many live in their communities, they are not of their communities. This is, in part, because of institutional mindsets that are present in many community group homes and other services in the U.S. In addition, there are efforts resurfacing to build new segregated institutions in spite of decades of research showing that people with intellectual and developmental disabilities have happier, healthier, and more productive lives when they live in smaller community homes with individualized supports and services.

Today, people with disabilities expect to live where and with whom they choose, work in real jobs with real wages, be connected with family and friends in deep personal relationships, practice faith if and as they choose, grow through lifelong learning, explore personal interests, experience physical and emotional well-being, have choices, take risks, and accept the responsibilities of citizenship.

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