SMILE Mass is in the process of creating Club SMILE Mass – Community within a Community! This property will have an adaptive and inclusive outdoor recreation area, offering outdoor recreational opportunities to able-bodied individuals as well as individuals with disabilities.
Our thanks to Cummings Foundation for awarding us a $100K for 100 grant to help make this Community within a Community a reality! We have a long way to go and need your help. Please consider sponsoring us below:
SMILE Mass is in the process of creating a Community within a Community! This property will have an adaptive and inclusive outdoor recreation area. We are looking at property in the metro-west area of Massachusetts. The property will be developed in stages and will offer outdoor trails for running, biking or cross-country skiing, a pavilion where we can offer socially distant recreation classes including fitness training, art and music classes as well as story time classes, just to name a few. Over time we plan to build an accessible tree-house. This outdoor, accessible recreation area will be able to accommodate able-bodied individuals as well as individuals with disabilities. It will be run on a membership basis, just like any other gym/club.
The goal of the Community within a Community would be to invite families raising children and adults with disabilities to join a club in their community, just like anyone else. The clients we are targeting will be given the same opportunities as their peers. But perhaps the biggest gift we can give these families is an opportunity to fit in and do something the rest of us take for granted.
We realize we don’t specialize in running recreation classes. Therefore, we will partner with instructors trained in each specialty!
Creating a Community within a Community will allow SMILE Mass to come full circle as we will run our equipment loaner program out of this facility. Families will have the option to borrow our adapted equipment, such as the adapted bikes and kick sleds, and use them right on the property eliminating the need to pack up a big piece of equipment into your car, driving somewhere appropriate to use it and storing it. This will allow us to service even more families through our adapted equipment loaner program as several families will be able to use the same piece of equipment each day (with proper sanitizing between clients).
By allowing individuals of all abilities the opportunity to enjoy recreation together, it will foster a better understanding of the disabled world to typically healthy individuals, removing some negative stereotypes and, hopefully, fostering friendships.
When someone has a disability, learning to use their muscle tone and strength to the best of their ability not only increases someone’s self-esteem, but their overall health will improve, both physically and mentally. But, perhaps the greatest gift for children and adults with disabilities is that they now have the same opportunity as everyone else, belonging to a recreation club, right in their own community. And perhaps, with a little luck, they will even meet like-minded people who love to work out and be active, making new friends.
By providing a barrier-free environment like an accessible recreation area, one could only hope the person with the disability is not defined by the disability, but by the person they are.