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Monday, September 04, 2006

Disability Awareness in Recreational Therapy Program Plan Outline

INTRODUCTION:
DART will operate with the Department of Recreation, Parks, and Tourism at the University of Florida in conjunction with the Marion County School Board. Funding for the 5 year pilot project will consist of . This covers all expenses including materials, development of original resource, training, supplies, hardware/software, and personnel. Future funding will be shared between private/public partnership with the University of Florida Department of Recreation, Parks, and Tourism disseminating data, organizing, training personnel and programs in conjunction with private sponsorship. Furthermore, it is expected that increased technological abilities will offer potential for revenue generation by professional development training seminars and “sales” of computer advertising within the programming software itself.
The University of Florida is a recognized leader in education and research which
The Florida Department of Education is committed to the enactment of the Individuals with disabilities Education Act (IDEA) which guarantees a free public education to all disabled persons within the least restrictive environment possible. This has generated the concept of “inclusion” where disabled children are educated with their peers whenever possible.
Inclusion seeks to provide greater opportunity and the eradication of structural, social, and societal barriers which restrict nearly 20% of uninstitutionalized Americans from equal access to education, work, and leisure. The economic and social ramifications of isolation and limited opportunity for 48 million Americans can no longer be ignored. As the U.S. disabled population increases (due to age, disease, advances in medical technology, etc.) and the government simultaneously seeks to cut spending, it becomes economically unfeasible to continue the support of millions of disabled persons. Thus, the trend towards inclusion within the school system is the necessity of tomorrow.
Inclusion seeks to minimize the differences associated with a disability while maximizing the abilities of each individual. Unfortunately, lack of awareness, misconceptions, inadequate exposure, and training, or even fear may hinder the actual application of inclusion. In order to address these and other issues, a Disability Awareness through Recreation and Technology (DART) program is set forth.
DART will provide a comprehensive training, awareness, and experiential program for K-12 grade students. By utilizing technological resources in a “fun” and stimulating manner, improved awareness, increased interpersonal skills, and disability education will be demonstrated. Educators will be trained in the use of Disability Awareness Activities and information in order to further the process of inclusion.
Initially DART will target Marion County in the provision of services to approximately 26,000 students of public education for a 5 year pilot program. recognizes the economic, social, and individual benefit derived from inclusion. The Therapeutic Recreation emphasis is uniquely situated to provide an educational and fun response to the challenges faced by the non-disabled as well as the disabled population within the school system. By reaching the needs of all students inclusion becomes a reality.

STATEMENT OF NEED:

Statistics from the U.S. Census Bureau demonstrate the potential impact of this grant proposal.
· Florida serves 258,522 children under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).

· Over 48 million Americans are disabled: Nearly one out of every Five non-institutionalized persons!

· According to the EEOC, $169 BILLION dollars were spent on transfer payments (Social Security Disability Insurance, Workman’s Compensation etc.)

· According to the same EEOC report, at least 8 Million disabled workers could Immediately return to work given an enabling environment. This would result in decreased social service expenditures and increased economic growth due to the newly gained economic vitality of disabled persons as they join the labor force.

· The Urban Institute reports that in 1994 children received more than $4 Billion dollars in SSI benefits. SSI expenditures represent less than 10% of combined federal, state, and local expenditures on children with disabilities. An estimate on combined cost would exceed $35 Billion dollars annually.

· The number of children receiving SSI has more than doubled since 1990. Adult caseloads have increased 30%.

· According to the Social Security Administration, Disability outlay in 1995 (excluding workman’s compensation and other transfer payments) was $41.6 Billion dollars. OASI benefits were $292.2 Billion dollars. Total outlay for 1995 exceeded $336 Billion dollars.

Despite the alarming nature of these statistics, Disability Awareness lends hope for a brighter tomorrow. Much as other Civil Rights movements, centered on gender, race, or religious status; the issue of disability has historically been overlooked or underestimated. Parallels among earlier Civil Rights movements and the current need for inclusion can be drawn. For example, the economic impact of discrimination and segregation became burdensome to society as a whole. Also, as with other Civil Rights movements, the disadvantaged group is aware of the issues, problems, and discrimination faced daily...it is necessary to educate and sensitize OTHERS in order to include all members of society. However, traditional services fostered dependence and isolation rather than independence and integration.
There is a unique feature which disability shares with no other movement: Disability is open to all. Unlike race or gender, disability can be acquired.
DART will be conducted as a model project designed to enhance the inclusion of disabled persons through the education of non-disabled persons. It is recognized and generally acknowledged that environment is the largest determining factor associated with the degree of handicap experienced by a disabled person. Given the vast amount of resources and funds directed at programs which inhibit the full potential of disabled person, the need for inclusion is urgent.
The medically diagnosed disability will still exist, but the degree of handicap or missed opportunity, experienced can be drastically minimized or even eradicated given an enabling environment. Project DART addresses this issue of environment though an outreach program targeted to the non-disabled as opposed to only the disabled population. There are few programs designed to meet the needs for education and training issues for the non-disabled person. These same persons will have a tremendous impact upon the success of any effort towards inclusion. This need is especially critical in the school system which is at the forefront of the inclusion effort in our society.
BACKGROUND:
Approximately 10-12% of all students are classified as “Special Education” in the United States. The education of special populations goes back to 16th century Spain where the education of the deaf was undertaken by Pedro Ponce de Leon. During the 18th century Sign Language was developed in France. Attempts to educate the blind and mentally retarded came about during the late 1700’s and early 1800’s. However, the United States did not open its doors to disabled children until 1869 when a school for the deaf opened in Boston. In 1896 the Chicago School for the Blind was established. Generally, disabled persons were kept at home or institutionalized. Educational opportunities remained rare and awareness of disabilities was grossly underestimated.
During the early 1900’s the government began screening for military personell. This screening process drew attemtion to physcial/cognitive/other conditions which the military deemed “unfit” for service. For the first time in American History a more accurate reflection of disability emerged. In 1929 the White House Conference on Children made special education a national priority. This was delayed due to the Great Depression and WWII and it was not until 1958 that Congress passed legislation designed to assist teacher training for the retarded. Ten years later the Education of the Handicapped Act was passed (amended in 1970), requiring the education of all disabled children. Finally, in 1975...only 20 years ago...did all states in the union provide education for all disabled students.
These traditional approaches to educate the disabled have historically consisted of segregated education and leisure, the effects of which carry far into adulthood. Only recently has the concept of inclusion or integration been adopted. Thus far the programs aimed at providing oppotunities for the disabled have fallen into the following categories:
· Segregation:
· Special Olympics
· Special Education
· Integration aimed only at the disabled:

· Independent Education Porgrams: focus upon mainstreaming children whenever possible but does little to address the quality of the social interaction by assuring an understading and supportive environment once the disabled child is placed into a tractional environment.
· “Techpress” which aims at the inclusion of disabled persons through technological education and education of the disabled.

· Protection from the disabled:

· Numerous programs aimed at the awareness and education of the disabled are available in order to Protect business and service providers from potential lawfuits or discrimination complaints, but very limited opportunities for education regarding inclusion are available. The ability to maximize the agency resources and potential effectivenees while providing meaningful opportunites for the disabled population still must be addressed.

Project DART fill this void. First, rather than viewing service provision as a “duty” with “cost” associated, the realistic and proactive financial “investment” is emphasized as having great potential “gains” for all citizens.
TARGET POPULATION:
DART initially will target school aged children grades K-12 in the Marion County Public School System. Disabled and non-disabled children will both be eligible for program participation as even disabled children are not aware of other disabling conditions. DART will also provide Instructor Education regarding curriculum and activities designed to Reinforce acquired learning.
Following the initial pilot project, DART will expand the educational compenent to school districts throughout Florida. Additionally, training seminars for professional, private, and public entities will be developed in order to elicit community support and awareness.
PROGRAM GOALS & OBJECTIVES:
1. To increase awareness and sensitivity to issues of Disability.
For each age appropriate category, various activities designed to enhance understanding and acceptance of issues surrounding disabiites will be personally experienced by each student.

In elementary school, the board game “In My Shoes” by DPI will be utilized. Additionally, each child will be allowed to touch, play, and use various assistive devices such as cruthes, eyeglasses, and wheelchairs in order to breakdown fear and barriers associated with unfamiliar objects. This will be under the supervision of carefully trained personall. Afterwards, a processing of the information and the experience of each child will be forthcoming.

For middle school children, interaction with various assisstive devices will be taken one step further as each child will “take on” a disability for one hour at a time. There will be an associated computer lab experience consiting of a video game portraying positive “can-do” disabled characters which provide a positive and fun approach.

High school students will experience a sophisticated replication of “acquiring a disability” through the use of Virtual Reality technology. The student will be allowed 10 to 15 minute sessions due to the extreme realism associated with the experience. Again, a processing of each students experience will be conducted thereafter. The associated computer lab experience for these students will consist of a software program which allows the students to interact with each other or other schools via computer. The program divides each group by selected criteria (age, disability,expertise, etc.) and allows input on a preselected decision making activity. Students will be instructed to implement, design, or carry-out a preassigned activity while providing for the designated disability.

2. To improve interpersonal skills and encourage the value of diversity.

DART will provide opportunity and availability for soical interaction with disabled “mentors”. An interaction, question and answer session, and internet “pen pal” correspondence will be utilized by each student during the course of training.

3. To educate student in respect to the need for inclusion of the disabled.

Specific age appropriate learning modules will be presented. Learning modules will be 10-30 minutes in duration and consist of verbal, written, media, and action oriented communication. Foundation Learning modules will be presented by initial DART personell. Supplemental Learning modules will be at the disposal of trained instructors and deigned for eas of implementation into all subject matter.

4. Teacher, Parent, and Community awareness and support for inclusion.

In order for inclusion to work, all members of society should be as activiely informed as possible. DART will send a copy of “DART-BOARD” (newsletter) to educators (to be distributed to teachers and parents) and community resources every 6 to 8 weeks. Highlights of DART activities, research, resources, infomration, and community sponsors will be included.

DART will also maintain a Homepage via the WWW accessible by computer 24 hours a day which list information, resources, and feedback from the community.

5. “Train the Trainer” Professional Development.

In order to obtain the maximum results, Volunteer Teachers from local schools, and related service providers from local not for profit organizations will be invited free of charge to participate in the full range of Disability Awareness through Recreation and Technology Programs. Each participant will be enrolled in a 4 to 6 hour course. Beginning with the education phase and followed by the Virtual Reality experience of an “acquired” disability. A firsthand introduction to the aspects of inclusion as it relates to Professional Development and Community growth will be emphasized.

PLAN OF ACTION & PROGRAM DESIGN:
DART will build a foundation with
Education
Awareness
Experience
To meet the needs of
Students
Educators
Community
Through
Recreation
Technology
Information

DART will continue to grow and generate funds through...
· Charging for Professional Development Seminars
· Corporate Sponsorship
· Ongoing Community Awareness
· Liason with related agencies.
· Sales of corporate advertising within the software and newsletter.
· Sales of Learning Modules.
· Learning Modules consist of various applications, exams, examples, etc. Designed to expose studetns to disability concepts after the foundation course by assimilating disability information and awareness into the general curriculum. Learning Modules will be sent in disk format for ease of duplication, savings of resources, and convenience of use. Each disk will have complete examles, tranparencies, and presentations. Learning Modules can be designed for use with any subject!
METHODOLOGY:
DART will provide local, state, and federal data and statistics through ecological and demographic data collection and dissemenation related to disability. A collection of referenced materials and resources will be made available via the Webpage for continuous updates. Also, unique localized information and data collection will be collected, analyzed and dissemenated for future use.
MANAGEMENT AND STAFFING PROJECTIONS:
During the five year pilot project phase, it is anticipated that DART personell will consist of the following positions:
Principal Investigator: The pricipal investigator will spend approximately 1/3 time on the project for 9 months of the year and 100% during the remainder of the year.

Project Coordinator: A full time project co-ordinator will be required to oversee the daily operations of the program. Duties will include assisting in personell issues, development of Learning Modules, supervision of Graduate assistents, and training.

Community Coordinator: A full time community co-ordinator will be required to act as community liason for related agencies and schools. Duties will include site selection and accomodation, information and “key-contact” support person, and production of “DARTBOARD” as well as the Homepage on the WWW.

Professional Development Specialist: A full-time specialist will be required to conduct Professional Development training and produce original resources. The integration of community and investigative needs will be combined to provide an adequate base of knowledge while meeting “real world” concerns.

Secretary: A full time secretary will provide written and verbal support through scheduling, sending out requested information, and all other office task.

Hardware Consultant: Training on related computers and Virtual Reality equipment will be necessary for a realistic experience and the maintenance of the equipment.

Software Consultant: A software firm will be hired to produce a quality software package consisting of “Can Do” video games and Learning Modules specifically for DART.

Graduate Assistants: Five 1/2 time graduate assistants will be needed to assist in the implementation of the actual program, training, professinal development, and information acquisition.

Student Employees: Five 1/2 time student employees will be needed to assist in guidance of children during activities, routine office task, and development of support resources.

ORGANIZATIONAL STRUCTURE:

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