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American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (AAIDD) Religion and Spirituality Interest Network 2023 Webinar Series

Pathways to Belonging: Supporting the Spiritual and Faith-Community Interests of People with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities

Dates: Wednesday February 15, March 15, April 19, and May 17
Time: 2 p.m. ET / 1 p.m. CT / 12 p.m. MT / 11 a.m. PT

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Logo for AAIDD Religion & Spirituality Network featuring outline of a doveThe Religion and Spirituality Interest Network of the American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (AAIDD) and RespectAbility, a diverse, disability-led nonprofit that works to create systemic change in how society views and values people with disabilities, are launching a new four-part webinar series. In collaboration with AAIDD’s Community and Technology Interest Networks, the series will explore:

  • Home and Community Based Services (HCBS) language to support the community engagement process of supporting people to belong to their chosen spiritual or faith community.
  • Why spiritual health and wellness is important to many people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD).
  • Practical considerations including questions to ask to learn about an individual’s spiritual health and wellness needs and preferences to find a spiritual home, how to advocate for inclusion and belonging, and what to expect when you accompany someone to a house of worship or other faith-based entity.
  • How technology can support meaningful participation, and the implications of technology for belonging.

February 15: Direct Support Professionals – Accompanying People in their Spiritual Journeys

Presenters: Bill Gaventa, Keith Dow, and Jasmine Duckworth

Text: "Direct Support Professionals. Accompanying People in their Spiritual Journeys" Headshots of three speakers for the webinar.Helping adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities discover and find belonging in a faith community of their choice can be daunting. Support staff come from different traditions or may have no religious background. Discovering the “right fit” can be tricky. Accompanying someone on their spiritual journey is about more than attending. The Direct Support Professional (DSP) may need to be a guide, coach, and community builder! The work can be meaningful and rewarding, calling on DSPs to acknowledge their own spiritual biases as they help people find a community of belonging. This session provides practical tips for support teams, from making initial contacts and introductions to helping build relationships between the people you support and members of a church, synagogue, or mosque.

March 15: From Assessment to Participation – Supporting Individual Preferences to Find Their Faith Community

Presenters: Sharon Gomez, Yvonne Miller-Nixon, Jarrod Adams, and Karen Towery

Headshots of four speakers for the webinar. Text: "From Assessment to Participation – Supporting Individual Preferences to Find Their Faith Community"How do you determine ways to support individual spiritual and religious preferences? Evergreen Life Services has developed its own spiritual assessment practice. This presentation describes how Evergreen utilizes its successful approach to support an individual’s preferences and participation in their chosen spiritual and religious expressions. The assessments include targeted questions that help create a pathway for providers to support individual religious and spiritual preferences and practices. The presenters from Evergreen will share the stories of peoples’ journeys to belong to their chosen faith communities.

April 19: Building Relationships and Collaborating with Faith Communities

Presenters: Tammy Besser and Sarah McKenney

Headshots of two speakers presenting at the webinar. Text: "Building Relationships and Collaborating with Faith Communities"In the I/DD provider world we often see faith communities as merely the places our clients go for religious services. Faith communities have so much to offer, both to the people we support and to our own organizations. In collaborating with faith communities, our organizations have engaged in mutually beneficial and enriching opportunities to better serve individuals’ spiritual needs. We will discuss multiple methods of engagement and provide examples of service, volunteer, employment, and social opportunities.

May 17: Community Connectedness and Technology

Presenters: Shea Tanis and Anne Masters

Headshots of two presenters for the webinar. Text: "Community Connectedness and Technology"Throughout the pandemic, technology solutions provided opportunities for people with I/DD and their families to participate in what used to be inaccessible activities and environments. Today, tools such as virtual platforms, communication technologies, connected communities, and cognitively accessible solutions are applied in innovative ways to decrease loneliness and provide ways for individuals to access religious and spiritual environments. Our presenters will discuss the utilization of technology solutions across domains and innovative approaches spiritual leaders are using to reach new audiences and allow greater participation from people with I/DD.

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