We do many things in our lives as adults that are valued by our society. We are workers, taxpayers, voters, volunteers, shoppers and customers, church members, members of a club or an organization, and so on. By being these things, we contribute, participate and are generally appreciated.
For several reasons, many people with disabilities are at risk being left out of our communities if steps are not taken to ensure that they are able to participate.
There are many aspects of community participation to consider. These include:
There are many aspects of being a citizen that bring meaning to our lives and our communities. Being a citizen could mean:
- Having the right and responsibilities to vote in elections;
- Being a volunteer and offering your time and talents to help in your community and your fellow citizens;
- Getting involved in community issues (such as the environment, poverty, etc.) and helping your community deal with these issues; and
- Joining a service club.
Having a job or doing some kind of work is a key part of community participation. Most people are known for what kind of work they do. Planning for successful transitions from school to work is dealt with later in this module.
Recreation and Leisure
Our participation may be based on personal enjoyment or having fun. Recreation and leisure are often ways that we get involved with clubs or associations. Some clubs and associations are involved with sporting activities (for example, a curling club, swimming club, etc.) and others involve hobbies such as photography. Recreation and leisure may simply mean going to a movie or having a dinner with friends or people with whom you work.
There are a number of aspects of personal involvement and what it means for community participation. Personal involvement may mean having opportunities to participate in ordinary community activities, such as shopping, banking or just getting around in your community. Personal involvement also includes activities that are more meaningful. For example, a person may be a member of a church congregation and be actively involved as a choir member, deacon or usher. We can also become members of an organization that promotes a cause we find important.