New Local Group Gives Opportunities to Those With Disabilities
Photographer / Kelli White
Fishers welcomed a new organization that adds to the city’s efforts to make the city accessible and inclusive for all residents. Thrive Social Club offers adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) the opportunity to connect with their peers through activities and events sponsored by the city. The idea for the club was set into motion by Mari Kennedy, who has a son with IDD and is a member of the Fishers Advisory Committee on Disability (FACD).
With the exception of highly structured entities such as the Special Olympics or integrated employment, adults with IDD have few opportunities for social interaction with anyone outside their family. Thrive Social Club seeks to fill that void. The goal is to facilitate positive interactions and the chance to develop friendships within the support of the club.
“Since my son Ryan has Down syndrome, the idea of something like this has been mulling around in my mind for years,” Kennedy says. “I feel there is a post-high school ‘cliff’ where after leaving school, there is little opportunity to find a social group. I always knew something like this was needed.
“At first I considered starting the club through my church, but then I discussed the idea with Cecilia Coble, Fishers city councilor and chairman of FACD. She said, ‘Why don’t we make it a city club under the umbrella of FACD?’ The club was launched in the last few months from there,” Kennedy says.
Thrive Social Club is guided by an advisory board consisting of members with a strong interest in the club’s mission. Joining Kennedy and Coble on the board are Kelly Hartman from Outside the Box, a services provider for those with disabilities, and Dana Pottschmidt of the Kiwanis Aktion Club, a program for adults with disabilities. Zenobia Curtis and Angela Touseull are parent board members.
Early on, the City of Fishers and Kennedy’s board conducted a survey within the community to gauge interest in a possible club and determine what types of activities participants would enjoy. She received around 100 positive responses. Potential members were interested in the opportunity to enjoy each other’s company while engaging in city-sponsored activities such as those initiated by the Fishers Parks Department.
“There is another piece to Thrive Social Club,” Kennedy adds. “We had our first meeting in October at Flat Fork Creek and participated in a park cleanup in conjunction with Keep Fishers Beautiful. I realized that there were just as many caregivers there as club members. It gave the caregivers a chance to meet and create a network. As the club continues, those caregivers will have the chance to form relationships and friendships, too.
“Although the club membership is for those 18 and older, we envision the club to be focused on individuals with IDD in their 20s and 30s,” Kennedy adds. “Of course, we will follow COVID guidelines and follow social distancing procedures. Thrive Fishers provides an available and welcoming opportunity for people of all abilities to have social interaction while participating in activities connected to our city.”
For more information, visit facebook.com/Thrive.FishersIN, and email ThriveFishers@gmail.com.