LESSON 9: KANSAS CITY, HERE WE COME!
Moving on, Lesson 9 describes a successful KC metro area nonprofit UD housing advocacy group that is a good model of “how to spread the UD word”. Finally, we’ll dig into Youth Community Service opportunities and benefits that offer training and other personal rewards for 'tweens and teens.
The Lesson 9 mission, should you choose to accept, most certainly will prepare you to:
|WORD BANK: Housing and disability advocates, vocational rehab, UD model homes, “SS&C” guidelines vs. UD principles, the BIG PICTURE, the players’ list, National Youth Services, SERVEnet, virtual volunteers, service project organizational chart and PLAN.|
The problem: Once the RIKC services were completed, many clients returned to INaccessible homes. The Institute discovered that many people who had to live with built-in obstacles were resigned to the idea that ALL houses had those same limits.
The young Network started with a mission: Universal Design education, advocacy, and building UD homes. They contacted agencies that provided housing services to older adults and people with disabilities. Next, they recruited architects, designers, attorneys, homebuilders, and other partners interested in promoting their mission.
Less than 10 years later, the UDHN is well-known for its UD housing activities. They support their work through grants from foundations, builders, mortgage lenders, and others who see the value of their community service.
UDHN's major community educational effort is constructing at least one model home each year to demonstrate UD while revitalizing KC's urban core. Each residence becomes an Open House for several months of tours and media coverage. After that, the Network sells the home at or below cost to a lucky UD homebuyer.
UDHN’s success is evident in the increasing numbers of KC metro area homebuilders who’ve voluntarily adopted the UD concept after working with the Network. The new UD-builders' homes and entire subdivisions are scattered across the metro area, plus rural and small town landscapes in both Missouri and Kansas.
The Network’s UD housing guidelines are simple: Safety, Convenience, and Comfort. Their website groups the SC&C features by zones within the home: Whole house, entry/transition area, kitchen, and bathroom. The site also includes photographs of the UD homes they’ve built.
LISTEN UP, Teen Idols! The UDHN is a good model for planning your Community UD Awareness Campaign. The Network addresses THE BIG PICTURE in spreading the UD word—NOT just one new home, by one builder, for one family. They continuously advocate for UD, and have helped promote a Visit*Ability bill in the Missouri Legislature.
Just as a metropolitan area is huge and complex, so are our social system and the roles that different people play. Involving ALL the players in a general or focused UD campaign is crucial to its success. You'll need to decide which group(s) to target, how to reach them, and who’ll do what. In the meantime, think up a WAY-COOL campaign theme, title, logo, and slogan. CLICK HERE
|Quotable Quote: It only makes sense to design homes that can last the residents’ lifetimes. As we age, everyone wants to continue enjoying all aspects of their homes. We should NOT be evicted by a house when it can no longer meet our needs! (P. Levy, UDHN Founding Director, 2004).|
For CENTURIES, Americans have done community service without expecting thanks or giving a thought to their own problems. Neighbors help neighbors, and strangers become friends by working together on projects that benefit whole communities. At your “teender ages,” you've probably already been involved in some type of volunteerism at school or in a youth group.
“People told me that whenever you reach out to someone, it helps YOU feel better. Find something you like to do and think of ways it can help someone else. If you like to read, do it at a day care center. It's also good to volunteer with friends and people you know—it will be MORE FUN than you think! Volunteering has made me a much better person. I've learned NOT to judge people so quickly, and NOT to take things for granted” (VolunteeN, Parade, 2003).
Community service opportunities are now more important than ever because our changing economy has widened the already broad gaps between America 's “haves” and “have nots.” As a result, Congress created National Service legislation to encourage a wide variety of community service efforts (like those below) that “lend a hand,” NOT a hand-out.
Youth Service in America (YSA) promotes, coordinates, and connects youth volunteers with service opportunities. Some are HUGE projects like the National Youth Service Day (an April worker-bee weekend across the U.S.) and the summertime Great American Bake Sale to help end childhood hunger. YSA also uses funds from major corporate sponsors to make Change Your Community grants available to youth groups—a smokin' idea!
YSA's SERVenet site lists community service opportunities for adults and youth, singles and groups--even virtual volunteers. You can make a difference without leaving home. We surfed in and found two youth-related virtual possibilities: a 2K Teenz Volunteer program and a Homeland Security Youth Mentor. Want more and newer challenges? CLICK HERE.
We found another opportunity where volunteers aged 13 and up serve other youth by providing school supplies. The Kidsmart Program gathers surplus office supplies, used computers, books, arts-and-crafts materials, containers, organization bins, and more from businesses and individuals who routinely toss their extra items. Link to a Gift For Teaching program: http://www.agiftforteaching.org/.
Kidsmart summer volunteers assist in preparing their ”store” for back-to-school “shopping.” Local teachers select items to use in their classrooms—AT NO CHARGE. The benefits? The freebies promote creativity among both students and teachers, and provide basic educational tools that give school district budgets a break. At the same time, they offer a chance for community recycling of used and surplus goods. Neato idea? YES!
The info above is NOT JUST to use in creating your UD Awareness Campaign. Community service is a GREAT way to meet others with similar interests. You never fail to get that warm, fuzzy feeling from helping make the world a better place for EVERYONE. Besides, having been bored teens ourselves (eons ago), we vaguely remember that ANYTHING beats staring at the sky, like Jeremy in the Zits cartoon.
|Quotable Quote: Join in making Universal Design the Next Generation Housing. It's up to US to see that the great UD equalizer becomes accepted AND adopted NOW (P. Levy, 2004).|
|Here we come to help the world adopt Universal Design!|
In Japan, the prefectures are similar to our states, with their own governing bodies. Thus, some of the Kumamoto UD Awareness Campaign activities might be transferable to your campaign plan. Using the site’s English parts, photos, and charts, see if you can identify their program's objectives, target audiences, and methods. Then create a smaller-scale version to you can apply to your home community.
Naturally, you won't be working at such a large or complex scale (hundreds of thousands of people and millions of yen?). You may choose to target your entire community in a broadbrush stroke. Or focus on the whole Scout troop, all 4-H clubs in the county, or the members of your church or synagogue. ALL can benefit from UD products and environments. Only the methods you use to get and hold their attention while you educate them, will differ.
If you've taken enough notes to know what to do, CLICK HERE to wing your way to the Land of the Rising Sun, cherry blossoms, AND lots of Universal Design innovations. When you drag yourself back from Japan with a huge case of jet lag, you'll have earned a rest because you've finished Lesson 9!