The Illinois Council on Developmental Disabilities has partnered up with Neumann Family Services to offer a one-of-a-kind platform for LGBTQ people in Cook County with intellectual/developmental disabilities ( IDD ).
Proud & Included is an ambitious project to marry community and inclusion for people with IDD. The initiative will deliver ongoing peer support, education and self-advocacy training for adults with IDD who identify as LGBTQ, and will educate Chicagoland LGBTQ Community leaders and organizations about the need for delivering inclusive programs and services that welcome people with IDD who identify as LGBTQ.
"Adults with IDD are often marginalized and excluded from the mainstream community, and this is particularly true for adults with IDD who identify as LGBTQ," said Director of Institutional Giving at Neumann Family Services Joe Moag.
Neumann Family Services is a distinguished social service agency located on the north side of Chicago, providing services to adults with developmental disabilities and mental illness.
Moag is also project director at Proud & Included.
"This initiative will connect people together to find support and community, and will work with the LGTBQ Community to expand its inclusion and embracing of all LGBTQ brothers and sisters that is its hallmark," said Moag.
"I'm thrilled, ecstatic!" said Sandra Clymo, a self-advocate for people with IDD who identify as LGBTQ. "I think too many years went by for people with disabilities who are LGBTQ and didn't have a place to go or have someone to give support or [a place to ask questions]."
Proud & Included Project Consultant Linda Sandman of Blue Tower Solutions will spearhead inclusion efforts and fine tune self-advocacy trainings throughout the IDD LGBTQ population.
Blue Tower Solutions joins The Center on Halsted, the Illinois Self-Advocacy Alliance and Griffin Centre of Toronto, Ontario on the Proud & Included Steering Committee. The Steering Committee has been designed to help the project reach its goals.
"Our Steering Committee members are vital to the success of this project," Moag said. "The Center on Halsted is the premier provider of LGBTQ Community services in the Midwest; Blue Tower Solutions, Inc., and the Illinois Self-Advocacy Alliance are world-class providers of self-advocacy training for people with IDD; and Griffin Centre in Toronto, Ontario, is an agency that pioneered this type of outreach and community-building programming for people with IDD who identify as LGBTQ."
Regarding potential hurdles, hiring staff members is the immediate need for Proud & Included to get off the ground.
"We're in the hiring staff phase, with activities starting in a couple weeks once staff is in place," said Moag.
Currently, Proud & Included is seeking a full-time project manager to handle day-to-day management of the project's outreach, community-building and inclusion education efforts. This is a one-year position funded through a grant that ends March 31, 2018. Additional funding to continue the project and this position beyond that date will be sought. Interested parties should contact Moag at email@example.com or 312-607-4990.
Find out more about Proud & Included by visiting the Neumann Family Services website at neumannfamilyservices.org .