Disability resource fair in Buffalo Grove promotes local services
BY BRIDGET O’SHEA email@example.com September 16, 2013 10:42AM
“Part of our role is to let people in the village know that there are resources. We try to educate people,” said Rick Kahen, who heads up Buffalo Grove’s Commission for Residents with Disabilities. “We basically act as a liaison between people with disabilities and the village." | Bridget O'Shea/Sun-Times Media
Updated: November 16, 2013 2:46AM
In an effort to publicize the many programs for children and adults with physical and developmental disabilities, Buffalo Grove’s Commission for Residents with Disabilities held it’s first-ever Disability Resource Fair on Sunday, Sept. 8, next to the Buffalo Grove Farmers Market.
“Part of our role is to let people in the village know that there are resources. We try to educate people,” said Rick Kahen, who heads up the commission. “We basically act as a liaison between people with disabilities and the village.”
Despite the cool, overcast morning, several nonprofits set up information booths detailing local services, including sports, educational and integration programs.
Volunteers from the office of state Rep. Carol Sente, D-59, of Vernon Hills, promoted an initiative set for October in Mundelein that will address the transition of young people with disabilities from youth programs into adult life. Brian Rubin of Buffalo Grove-based Rubin Law and Sherri Schneider of Buffalo Grove-based Family Benefit Solutions are scheduled to speak about existing services and ways residents can help others in need.
Lindy Mika, administrative aide to state Sen. Terry Link, D-30, of Waukegan, said one of the most common disability-related calls that legislative offices receive is from parents concerned about their teen or young adult who may be aging out of a youth assistance program.
“Sometimes their children are turning 18 or 19 and they’re wanting to know what will happen,” said Mika. “We’re spreading the word as best we can.”
One resource is Northbrook-based Keshet, a nonprofit which offers educational, recreational and vocational programs to children and adults with disabilities.
Danielle Gordon, marketing and communications outreach intern for Keshet, said the organization aims to help people of all ages. Keshet’s adult programs, she said, help individuals with disabilities in job placement. Gordon added that Keshet also works in many local schools to help children with disabilities integrate.
“Depending on children’s different needs, we have people who work with the students. A big thing is to integrate them with their peers,” Gordon said. “We’re just trying to get the word out and get volunteers.”
One popular program featured at Sunday’s fair was a Buddy Baseball program, which is part of the Northwest Special Recreational Association. Buddy Baseball organizes baseball teams for individuals with disabilities from 5 to 30 years old. The program’s four teams, two Cubs squads and two White Sox teams, play each other.
“They get paired with a non-disabled buddy to play the game,” said Laurel Katz, who chairs the Northwest Special Recreational Association’s fundraising arm. “We had about 75 players last season and we are entering our 20th season.”
Jack Shapiro, who serves on Buffalo Grove’s commission for residents with disabilities, offered nothing but positive thoughts about the Buddy Baseball program.
“Buddy baseball is great. They all have a great time,” said Shapiro. “The idea is we’re trying to get as many people as possible.”
Buddy Baseball has no residency requirements, so any young resident with a disability is encouraged to join.
Shapiro said the commission also highlighted the special carnival day for kids with disabilities during Buffalo Grove Days.
“That’s really our biggest event of the year,” he said. “When the kids are smiling and having fun, that’s really what makes me want to get more involved.”