Lauren Pace, a participant in the Youth Empowerment and Leadership Program (YELP), offers her perspective on the individual and community benefits of the program.
The YELP program can assist the communities of greater Cleveland in a variety of ways. Persons with disabilities sometimes have the stigma that opportunities within the community aren’t interesting to the disabled population. However this is only a small percentage of the disabled population. There are many individuals with disabilities who are excited to venture out of their comfort zone to explore new opportunities.
Businesses may feel that they have the lack of resources to accommodate these individuals. However, this is not the case and this is something that YELP programs can assist in changing. Participation and support in community outings offered through YELP provides businesses with feedback and support as well as guidance as to how to approach the barriers they may feel they encounter while having the disabled population in their businesses. Another key component in regards to YELP programs is promoting independent skills to the participants as they venture out into the community realizing that they have the potential to be active members of society. These individuals learn about public accessibility as well as community resources that can be provided from them as they are out in the community. Based on individual capabilities, these resources include asking for assistance with ordering food, getting set up and paying for a meal while providing direction as to what to order, how much to pay, etc.
By having programs such as YELP, we can become a more inclusive community by benefiting individuals as well as businesses. In the future by having YELP will significantly in helping people with disabilities become a part of the everyday norms.