One cannot live by Education, job searches, and Vocational Rehab alone. In order for one to “live the Dream” you must also be able to access Social and recreational opportunities. In other words you have to get out there and have as much fun as humanly and legally possible. So how do you prevent boredom and loneliness? By staying active, making friends, learning new things, and creating connections with your community. Okay, so how do you start? By asking yourself these questions:
- What do I like to do in my free time?
- What new things would I like to try?
- Where do I like to go?
- Where are new places I’d like to visit?
- Who do I like to spend time with?
- What do I like to buy when I have extra money?
- What do I collect (Beanie Babies, flashlights, baseball cards, etc.)?
The answers to these questions can give you clues about leisure activities you might enjoy. Sometimes it’s uncomfortable when you first try something new – stick it out for awhile because you might just decide you like it!
Here are some ideas of social and recreational activities you might consider trying:
Advocacy/Activism – speaking up for your rights and the rights of other people with disabilities
- State links to Advocacy
- Montana Youth Leadership Forum (MYLF) provides a 5-day intensive training opportunity to help youth with disabilities learn leadership, citizenship, and social skills.
- National links to Advocacy
- ADAPT, an organization “fighting so people with disabilities can live in the community with real supports instead of being locked away in nursing homes and other institutions” (from ADAPT web site).
- The National Youth Leadership Forum works to develop the next generation of disability leaders.
- The Riot! Fun Page offers information on self-advocacy.
- Kids As Self Advocates (KASA) is created by and for youth…KASA provides information and support to help youth make choices and advocate for themselves.
- Disability is Natural offers thought-provoking articles to promote new ways of thinking about disability
- Disability World produces a web-zine of international disability news.
- Art/Performing Arts
- Consider joining local choirs or taking local art or musical lessons.
- National links to the Arts
Going to watch any game from a college football game to minor league baseball, can be a great an often very affordable way to keep up with your favorite team or just get together with friends. Here are some links to some team websites from across the state.
- Minor league Baseball
- Minor league Hockey
- College Sports – welcome sports fans regardless of were your allegiances may lie or whether you decide to attend one of these fine institutions of higher learning. College athletics can be a fun and affordable night out or midday break.
Youth with disabilities can have a hard time finding information about topics like dating, relationships, and sex. Being informed helps you build the kind of social life you want. Find someone you can trust, talk with, and from whom you can learn what you need to know!
Resource: National Youth Leadership Network (NYLN) published this document to help start the conversation and provide some valuable information.
- Participating in fan clubs (like for movie or sports stars).
- Collecting things (flashlights, baseball cards, stuffed animals, etc.).
- Join Kiwanis, the Lions or another service club.
- If you have a visual impairment, you might be able to borrow talking books from the Montana State Library at no cost.
- The Bookshare.org library provides people with print disabilities access to books and periodicals converted to Braille, large print, or digital formats for text-to-speech audio.
- There are all sorts of other hobbies you might want to try!
Online Communities (chat rooms, bulletin boards, web sites, etc.)
- Run a blog.
- Join Facebook, MySpace or another online community.
- Create podcasts.
- Participate in online discussions.
- Disaboom.com offers chat rooms and discussion areas.
Important note: remember not to give out personal information (where you live, your Social Security Number, etc.) on the Internet. You never know who might have access to the information. The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children maintains a web site with information and videos on Internet safety for teens and adults – visit this site to learn how to protect yourself online.
- Join a gym.
- Run, jog, walk, bike, hike, swim.
- Go camping.
- Hunt or fish in the great outdoors (visit the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks web site to learn about accessible hunting and fishing areas).
- Plant and tend a garden (if you don’t have space for a garden, contact your local Extension Services office and ask if there is a community garden in your area).
- Participate in Eagle Mount’s recreational activities for children and adults with physical, mental or behavioral challenges.
- Register to vote and then vote in every election – make your voice heard!
Polling sites (the places where you vote) are required to be accessible to all people. If your local site is not accessible, contact Disability Rights Montana for assistance.
- Learn more about the candidates by reading or listening to the news, researching the candidates’ positions on the Internet, and visiting the Project Vote Smart web site.
- Volunteer to help with a local, state or national political campaign (either working to get a candidate elected or to get an issue passed).
- Join a church, synagogue, mosque or other faith community.
- Participate in study groups, youth groups, choirs, and other faith-based activities.
- Learn more about how faith communities can be inclusive by visiting the Religion and Disability Program of the National Organization on Disability web site.
- Humane Society
- Food pantry/food bank
- Boys and Girls Club
- Road races and other special events
- Fund raising events
What if I feel like I can’t participate because of my disability?
MonTECH, Montana’s resource center for Assistive Technology devices, information, training, evaluations, and other AT-related supports, can help you figure out ways to participate in nearly every activity imaginable.
The National Center on Physical Activity and Disability can also provide information and resources to help people with disabilities become and remain physically active.
If you feel like you are being discriminated against because of your disability, contact Disability Rights Montana for assistance.
For more information about leisure activities, check out these resources:
Parents, Let’s Unite for Kids (Montana’s Parent Information Center).
Quality Mall offers free information about person-centered supports for people with developmental disabilities.