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Inclusion, a New Empower Value, in Action

Photo take by Michele DeLuca, Niagara Gazette reporter

Photo take by Michele DeLuca, Niagara Gazette reporter

Helping the people we support to live as full members of our community is at the heart of everything that Empower does, and was therefore included as the core value inclusion in the newly-adopted three year strategic plan.  In each of Empower’s four service areas, inclusion is present, providing additional ways for the people who are supported to participate in their community.

Children’s Academy: Preschool classes in which typically-developing children and preschoolers with a disability are learning alongside one another teaches acceptance from an early age and facilitates friendships that last long after the preschool years.

Community Housing: these homes are empty during the day because residents are out in their community, pursuing their interests and realizing their abilities.  On evenings and weekends, residents go on outings, such as to the movies or shopping.

Job Training and day programs: now that all job training sites are located in the community, participants have more of a chance to interact with their community, whether it be through volunteering at local churches or waiting on customers at one of Empower’s redemption centers.

Community Health: each of Empower’s specialized clinics provides people with and without disabilities with access to preventative health care that is close and delivered by people they know.

Recently, two new avenues to inclusion were added that did not exist before for people with disabilities.  Anthony Salvo is the first person with an intellectual or developmental disability who is part of a year-long leadership development program called Leadership Niagara.  Anthony is being mentored by Dr. Joe McDougall who has cerebral palsy and wanted to give back for the opportunities extended to him throughout his life such as being the first biomedical researcher to investigate the Love Canal environmental disaster.

Each month, the pair attend Leadership Niagara sessions together and translate lessons into achieving Anthony’s ambition to own a coffee shop that employs people with intellectual or developmental disabilities. This initiative is made possible through a grant received from the Elks Major Projects Fund, and Empower’s partnership with Leadership Niagara who embraced this idea as it fulfills their own value of diversity.

In the Spring, Empower will be starting an inclusive golf program that teaches golf basics to people with and without disabilities at Niagara Frontier Country Club (NFCC) in Youngstown.  Students can enjoy NFCC’s beautiful course while putting alongside golfers of all abilities.  If you are interested in finding out more information about  this program, please contact Elizabeth at (716) 297-0798, ext. 173 or

Inclusion and opportunities to build community connections are part of all Empower programs.  New initiatives such as the Leadership Niagara are being added to create additional ways for people we support to live as full members of our community.  We look forward to seeing the results of these efforts.

Save the Date

Basket Auction, March 22 (4 – 8 p.m.) & 23 (noon to 5 p.m.), Volare Lodge

Autism Awareness and Vendor Event, April 27 (11 a.m. to 4 p.m.), Niagara Active Hose

Golf Tournament, June 17, Niagara Frontier Country Club