People with disabilities report widespread social isolation that undermines their physical and emotional health. We counter this by building community and providing opportunities for mutual support.
The ICS Independent Living Program supports people with newly acquired or diagnosed disabilities to adjust and stay connected to the community by pairing them with mentors. These mentors are people with disabilities who are working, living independently, and who are trained, paid, and supervised by ICS.
Our member-led support groups have long provided safe spaces for self-expression and community.
Recognizing that people with disabilities – and our members in particular – face intersectional discrimination based on their race, gender, income level, or sexuality, we started several support groups to address these issues. These include women’s groups, one supporting younger women with disabilities and another for older women, a men’s group, and a group for people with disabilities who identify as LGBTQIA+
People with disabilities often have difficulty attending community-based programs due to inaccessible locations or feel uncomfortable being the only person with a disability at a gathering. We offer a wide range of programming, including art classes and disability-competent exercise instruction, in our fully accessible member centers in Brooklyn and the Bronx. Our Brooklyn Center also has a dedicated, fully-accessible art classroom.
Frequent educational programs ICS offers in collaboration with trusted community based partners give our members opportunities to enjoy each other’s company while gaining knowledge on topics including employment, voting, financial planning, housing, transportation, healthcare, self-advocacy, sex and dating, parenting and more. Other classes – such as wheelchair Zumba and laughter yoga – help build community, as do special events such as film screenings, game nights, and holiday celebrations.
Importantly, our accessible member centers also serve as welcoming gathering places for the entire community, where people with disabilities feel free to meet up, hang out, and create their own meetings and events, regardless of whether they are ICS members.