Community Connections (CCP) is a program at LADD that provides opportunities for participants to learn and strengthen life and communication skills, build confidence through decision making, and prepare to hold community integrated jobs. In LADD’s field of work, CCP is often referred to as a “day program,” but it is SO much more than that!
Program manager for CCP Faith Maynard explains that the strong program that serves over 70 people is “adventure all the time.” The team of staff, called Social Guides support the people in the program to plan and execute community integrated programming throughout the greater Cincinnati area. People are curious about different things and have the opportunity to learn what each other is curious about and develop passions and interests of their own in the process. The program runs seven days a week. What makes CCP so unique is that LADD’s day programs do not involve a facility. Everything CCP does is community based. “The intent is to explore and discover what inspires you!” says LADD CEO Susan Brownknight. “that self-discovery is much harder if you are going to the same place every day.”
Their groundbreaking work in the community has not gone unnoticed. This year, The Ohio Department of Developmental Disabilities awarded LADD’s CCP program with the Building Innovative System Models (BISM) grant. This grant is designed to stimulate and encourage programs that innovatively integrate adults with developmental disabilities in the community.
As a part of the BISM grant, Faith Maynard and her subject matter expert Jeannine Pavlak wrote a 20-page report on LADD and a business plan for the vision for CCP as it expands. She put together a team to help improve the CCP and LADD’s supported employment program, which helps people find and learn jobs in the community.
At the conclusion of the BISM grant program in June 2023, Faith will travel throughout the state of Ohio to share the business plan and provide guidance so other agencies can create community-integrated programs.
“The goal is to spread the good ideas that service providers are developing so more agencies in Ohio can benefit,” Faith says.
LADD has been supporting CCP since 2003, but it did not become a group program until 2008. According to Faith, “That’s when LADD’s CCP truly became innovative because to my knowledge, at that time, nobody was doing community-integrated day array services.” Faith’s hope is that all people with developmental disabilities will have access to programs like LADD’s CCP. Which is why she did not hesitate to do the extra work and effort associated with the grant. “How can you know who you are and what you want to do if you don’t have access to the world?” Faith asks.
In addition to empowering participants to plan together, be curious and explore, another goal of CCP is to support people in gaining the skills they need to be ready for community employment. From developing a comfort level within the community, to knowing how to locate public restrooms, packing your lunch, dressing appropriately for the weather, talking to people you don’t know, CCP furthers all these skills for those participating. Most importantly, CCP wants the people in the program to recognize that their presence in the community adds value and that they have something to offer.
In order to do this, CCP takes groups to volunteer at places like Churches Active in Northside (CAIN) Food Pantry on Friday’s, Matthew 25 Ministries in Blue Ash, and the Cincinnati Nature Center.
“LADD has been ahead of the curve longer than even I realized. I’ve been here for 19 years, and we were already doing super innovative things before me,” Faith says. “We are built on great ideas.” More importantly, Carolyn Reynolds, LADD’s Program Director offers, “we are successful because of visionaries like Faith and because there is a team of social guides and people with developmental disabilities that want more for others and for themselves.” Carolyn continues, “The state’s recognition of our innovative work is a result of a lot of hard work by Faith and her team and by incredible people coming together around a common vision—that people with developmental disabilities should have access to the community.”