In November 2017, Gio Boeing started the Engage Program at Ken Anderson Alliance (KAA), an organization that invites adults with developmental disabilities to enjoy time out in the community through socialization and volunteerism. Initially, 120 people started in the program. Today, 215 participants engage in 22 monthly outings. To keep groups manageable, between six and eight individuals go on one to two outings each month, accompanied by KAA staff and volunteers.
“We do a wide variety of outings based on what they like to do,” says Boeing. Excursions include sporting events, plays, dinner, Trivia or Bingo at local restaurants, as well as service projects like helping with disaster relief efforts at Matthew 25: Ministries and packing kids’ packs at the Free Store/Foodbank. They also go shopping to buy food for the hungry and toys for children around the holidays.
“Our participants are very invested in these outings, which is great to see,” says Boeing.
In the wake of the coronavirus outbreak, KAA transitioned to virtual offerings to safely keep people engaged. For instance, they do a weekly broadcast on crafting, twice-weekly fitness broadcasts, and on Fridays, “Jamming with Emily,” in which participants can request songs. In addition, they facilitate online Trivia and Bingo nights as well as a virtual happy hour where they invite special guests to drop in (visit www.kenandersonalliance.org for future happy hour dates and times). Past guests have included Nick and Drew Lachey, Jay DeMarcus from Rascal Flatts, Coach Zac Taylor from the Bengals, MLB player Doug Flynn, and NBA player Dan Issel. All events are free and open to the public.
“We encourage people to get online and engage with us,” says Boeing. “Not only does it increase KAA’s awareness, but it also more closely mimics our usual outings, such as when we play Trivia at a sports bar with other community members.”
Though they hope to transition back to community-based outings this summer as safety and comfort levels allow, virtual activities will continue in some capacity indefinitely — especially given that KAA is in the process of building a $40 million dollar community that will provide housing and access to support services for 175 adults with disabilities.
“Onsite programming will be a great way to engage with people who have mobility limitations,” says Kevin Potts, KAA’s executive director.
KAA is grateful to their ongoing partnerships with Down Syndrome Association of Greater Cincinnati (DSAGC), Melodic Connections, Living Arrangements for the Developmentally Disabled (LADD), Autism Society of Greater Cincinnati, and Redwood.
“We thank our partners for their continued cooperation and support,” says Potts. Anyone who is interested in working part-time as an Outing Leader at KAA may contact Boeing for details.
“In order to keep growing these programs, we need more staff and volunteers,” says Potts. “I encourage community members to help by giving their time and talent.”
Ken Anderson Alliance is located at 11260 Chester Road, Suite 280, Cincinnati, OH 45246. For more information, call 513.813.8321, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.kenandersonalliance.org.