Paul V. Sherlock Center on Disabilities

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Access for All Abilities Mini Grant Initiative

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2009 Mini-Grant Recipients

The Paul V. Sherlock Center on Disabilities at Rhode Island College awarded 2009 "Access for All Abilities" mini-grants to four Rhode Island organizations.

Recipients of the $2,500 grants were the Bristol Historical and Preservation Society, the Providence Public Library, the Rotary Club of Chariho and The Steel Yard, Providence.

The award to the Bristol Historical and Preservation Society, housed in the former Bristol Town Jail, used the funds to acquire video and audio technology to make the Society's collections available as a video tour for individuals with disabilities who are currently unable to access the historic building's second floor. The technology will also assist those involved in historical research.

The Providence Public Library utilized the grant funds to conduct a series of workshops designed to help librarians and program presenters become more effective at inclusion of children and adults with disabilities or mental illness in library programs. Videotapes of the workshops are available in digital form from the Providence Library website. Funds were also set aside to provide American Sign Language interpreters at programs at Providence Public Library and throughout the state.

The Rotary Club of Chariho used grant money to help defray the cost of crushed stone and equipment at the Sarah Jane McCullough Play Area, which serves children and adults in Richmond, Hopkinton, Charlestown, Westerly and Exeter. The crushed stone is part of a subsurface for a "poured in place" rubber surface, which allows complete wheelchair access. The equipment is not only accessible but also useable by people in wheelchairs. The play area, located at Richmond Elementary School, is an inclusive playground available to all individuals and families. The playground provides a location for individuals who are in wheelchairs to play with siblings, friends and family members. Parents can take their children of all abilities to one playground. Families can enjoy creating new memories with their family as they participate in play and picnic together.
The playground is also the location of a special needs program offered by the Chariho School District at the Richmond Elementary School. The Chariho School District has accepted this playground as a donation. The Sarah Jane McCullough Play Area was dedicated on June 20, 2009.

View Photo Album of Playground under Construction

The Steel Yard offers free industrial arts classes and job training for low-income students aged 13-18, and produces street art for local neighborhoods and communities. The Steel Yard utilized the mini-grant funds to acquire additional safety equipment and a digital projector to assist in accessible, demonstration-based teaching. The Steel Yard currently offers classes that do not distinguish between youth and adults with disabilities and those without.

Having enough safety equipment in different sizes to help with comfort and mobility is crucial to the success and safety of students participating in their programs. Additional auto-darkening helmets increased their capacity to serve more students at once. In 2010, they simultaneously ran Camp Metalhead and the Summer WIA Worforce program without disrupting either program due to insufficient equipment. Autodarkening helmets make it easier for students to learn and evens out the playing field for those with dexterity problems.

The Steel Yard also developed, upgraded, and implemented curricula that integrate the digital projector to assist with class demonstrations, protecting students with disabilities from feeling singled out for expanded one-on-one demonstrations.

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