The Benefits of Community and Social Engagement
Living with a disability can pose unique challenges, but it should not prevent individuals from fully participating in their communities. Engaging in social events and programs offers numerous benefits for people, fostering a sense of belonging, promoting social connections, and enhancing overall well-being.
The NDIS conducted a study, focusing on people with intellectual disability, psychosocial disability and people on the autism spectrum (these groups make up two-thirds of NDIS participants) to learn more about community participation for NDIS participants. The study presented multiple barriers and enablers that people face when accessing their communities.
In this blog post, we will explore the benefits of being able to actively participate in community activities and programs and focus on the barriers at a later stage. There are four key outcomes that stand out when looking at the benefits community engagement provides.
1.A Sense of Belonging: Social events and programs can provide individuals with disabilities the opportunity to connect with others who share similar experiences, interests, and challenges. This sense of belonging can help combat feelings of isolation and loneliness, which can be prevalent for people living with disabilities. Engaging in community activities can provide a sense of purpose and help individuals feel included and valued within their communities.
2.Promoting Social Connections: Socialising is a fundamental aspect of human interaction, and people with disabilities deserve the same opportunities to develop and maintain social connections. Engaging in social events and programs can facilitate meaningful interactions and friendships, allowing individuals to build a supportive network of peers and allies. These social connections can provide emotional support, reduce stress, and improve overall mental well-being.
3.Enhancing Physical and Emotional Well-Being: Participation in community events and programs can have a positive impact on the physical and emotional well-being of individuals with disabilities. Physical activities such as adaptive sports, dance classes, or outdoor excursions can promote physical fitness, motor skills development, and increased mobility. Engaging in creative activities, cultural events, or volunteer opportunities can also provide emotional fulfillment, boost self-esteem, and enhance cognitive skills.
4.Supports Personal Growth and Independence: Social events and programs can provide opportunities for personal growth and skill development for individuals. These activities can foster independence, self-advocacy, and confidence, as individuals learn to navigate and participate in their communities. Engagement in social events and programs can also expand knowledge, interests, and hobbies, allowing individuals to explore new experiences and broaden their social groups.
One barrier people felt when trying to participate in community activities was negative views and attitudes by some which then made it uncomfortable for people to be involved. The need for promoting inclusive communities is so important to breaking down these attitudes and educating people to break down misconceptions, reduce stigma, and promote acceptance and inclusion of people with disabilities. This can create a more inclusive community that embraces diversity and celebrates the unique contributions of individuals with disabilities.
There are so many great programs and services out there across Australia. A fantastic website to look for options in your area is the Disability Gateway website. Choose the state you are located in, and what area you are interested in for your search and you will be provided with a list of options relevant to your filters. AAA Play in Victoria is also a great organisation that helps connect people to various sporting clubs near them. AAA Play works closely with the participant to get an understanding of what is best suited to their needs and then assists with engaging with potential clubs and programs. NDIS funding can be used in a multitude of ways to help people access and engage with community programs and events. Assistance and support can start with building skills or working on positive behaviours to lay good foundations before engaging with community programs and events. All the way through to assisting to physically attending and participating, this might be through the help of support workers, or assistance with transport to get to venues, to assistive technology that allows a person to safely be involved in activities.
The benefits of engaging in social events and programs can be life-changing for people. Benefits include a sense of belonging, strengthening social connections, enhancing physical and emotional well-being and encouraging personal growth, with so many other positive aspects solidifying the importance of community participation.
If you are Plan Managed and need help with your NDIS funding and how it can be used to access and engage in community events and programs, reach out to the team today! Contact us here.