Health & Exercise

Plans To Open New Program: The Inclusion Institute

The AWS Foundation announced a second round of awards totaling $3,222,620 to four local nonprofit disability service organizations as part of its Vantage Grants. The League was one of the recipients and is making big plans to move forward with a revolutionary program.

Since its incorporation in 1950, advocacy has been at the heart of all aspects of the work at The League. Over the years, the agency has participated in development projects for public spaces in the community to ensure accessibility was incorporated so that everyone in the community can enjoy those spaces.

Representatives from the agency attend public transportation meetings to represent the voice of people with disabilities in route planning and bus stop upgrades/installations. The President/CEO, John Guingrich, participated in measuring curbs to advocate for curb ramps throughout the city so people with wheelchairs can safely cross the street. While The League has participated in systemic advocacy projects and conversations, the bulk of the work done is addressing barriers to everyday life for individuals with disabilities served by the agency.

The Inclusion Institute will transform the way The League carries out systems advocacy. It will no longer be a small part of everyone’s job, rather have a team dedicated to necessary positive changes in our community. Having this dedicated program will be a major leap towards fulfilling the organization’s vision of full inclusion of people with disabilities in all aspects of community life. It will be the bridge and conduit to bring together people with disabilities, organizations, businesses, and community leaders to work towards a more accessible and inclusive Northeast Indiana.

“We are honored that the AWS Foundation has provided this opportunity. The Inclusion Institute will be transformational for The League, and, more importantly those we serve and our community.”, says Guingrich. “It will allow us to help our peers with disabilities to gain the skills and knowledge needed to be engaged in leading the change that they and our community deserves.”

The League has historically prioritized community collaborations, and The Inclusion Institute will further promote this collaborative spirit. The organization is perfectly positioned to begin the work that needs to be done to break down barriers to inclusion, access, and opportunity. “The League’s proposal was based on extensive research and input from those of all abilities,” says Patti Hays, AWS Foundation CEO. “Their proposal is far-reaching with the potential for dramatic impact for self-advocates and the region of NE Indiana. Systems changes are the hardest ones to make, but The League is using the Vantage Grant to do just that!”

The League has served the community for more than 70 years and has traditionally used a paced and strategic approach to adding new programs. It has been one of its keys to success and sustainability. The Inclusion Institute brings new opportunities for collaboration, thoughtful discussions, education and training for leaders and community members. The Institute is ready to change the way that people with disabilities and those without, believe about disability.

For more information about this new program, volunteer opportunities or to support the program, contact Angelina Boungou, Director of Resource Development at 260-272-0305 or

The Waynedale News Staff

The Waynedale News Staff

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