The mission of TDN in Flint, Michigan, is to revolutionize communities to be inclusive and accepting, where all people thrive in the quality of life they create.
TDN is a Center for Independent Living (CIL), which means they are run BY people with disabilities FOR people with disabilities. A minimum of 50% of TDN’s staff and board must have a significant disability in order to be a CIL. At TDN, over 90% of the staff and board have a disability.
COMMUNITY GRANTS PROJECT: THE TDN CONNECT PROGRAM
The TDN Connect program is a new project with the goal to provide opportunities for adaptive recreation, social, and wellness activities to people living with a disability. The initial project was a virtual program designed to train people with disabilities to use adaptive equipment in the kitchen. Due to the high degree of success with the virtual cooking format, TDN expanded this program to be an all-inclusive social, educational, and recreational program.
TDN has invested in software that allows staff to provide remote tech support prior to and during the virtual program. The project is designed for the TDN service area of Genesee County but can be accessed by anyone across the state of Michigan, as it is a virtual program created to strengthen personal connections during the COVID-19 pandemic.
TDN has recently hired a new Health and Recreational Therapist to continue the implementation of this program. Currently, a Recreational Therapy Assessment is conducted on each participant. This assessment is utilized to identify interests, goals, and barriers to leisure participation. The Recreational Therapist will then address these barriers with individual adaptations or equipment.
- TDN expanded the program beyond cooking classes to include more recreational activities, which now include a movie club, chair yoga, bingo, and board games. Most of TDN’s programs are virtual. Bingo and board games are now being offered in person, and there are plans to start a dance class for all abilities and ages.
- TDN has created monthly calendars, a flyer, and a PowerPoint presentation. TDN uses these materials to describe the TDN Connect Program to possible new participants or new organizations that may want to partner with them.
- TDN is constantly collecting feedback and updating activities as needed.
People in Flint have a very justified distrust of public and private institutions. General Motors leaving the area brought on serious economic hardship, and during the Flint water crisis, tens of thousands of Flint residents were exposed to dangerous levels of lead. Nevertheless, TDN earned trust with their constituents and has been quick to adapt to changing circumstances:
- They added virtual options during the COVID-19 pandemic.
- They purchased software that allows for remote tech support for program participants who lack knowledge about technology.
- They provided free bus passes for program participants who lacked transportation.
- “As long as you can look up you can get up.” TDN is a resilient, resourceful organization. They have been a constant presence in Flint that people have come to rely on.
- TDN has learned to embrace change, from activity locations (virtual/in person), to curriculum updates, to accepting constituents’ feedback (afternoon activities, concerns about COVID).
- TDN is actively seeking additional partnerships to develop their programming further. They partnered with the Valley Area Agency on Aging for chair yoga classes. They are disseminating information to other organizations in the area (local libraries, senior centers) to recruit program participants.