GPL Column: Southside Disability Resource Fair coming to library

From the moment my child received an autism diagnosis at the age of two I have been on the hunt for as many resources as I can find to assist him. I spoke with multiple healthcare providers, found other parents in my shoes, did countless hours of Google and Facebook searches, looked for support groups, and attended a vendor fair with autism resources. Before long I became one of those parents that other parents sought out when their children were diagnosed. I even turned my knowledge of community resources into somewhat of a career, from working with Indiana Family to Family, Indiana’s parent-to-parent support organization, to my work as a librarian finding resources and providing references.

My family resource experience, along with all of the connections made with my son’s various treatment providers, has allowed me to create a relatively extensive network among the disability community in Indiana. Yet, almost every month I learn about a new, or new-to-me, resource. For example, after living in Greenwood and working at Greenwood Public Library for over two years, just last month I learned about Greenwood Little League’s Challenger League. This baseball league, which enables kids ages 5-18 with physical and mental disabilities to enjoy the game of baseball, is a stone’s throw from the library and I had no idea.

There are so many wonderful opportunities out there for those of us in the disability community, but at times it can be difficult to navigate. You may be focused on specific treatments and not have time to look for resources. In addition, new things pop up all the time as individuals with disabilities age and change, and so do their needs and appropriate resources. Some resources, particularly government benefits, can be confusing and cumbersome to learn about and apply for.

This is why I am so pleased that GPL is partnering with Connections Case Management, Inspire Case Management and Putnam County Comprehensive Services to present the Southside Disability Resource Fair at GPL 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on September 24. This free event will offer Greenwood and southside-area visitors the chance to interact with over 40 vendors who serve the southside disability community. Whether you have a physical or mental disability or are the caretaker of an adult or child, you will discover new and helpful resources. Our goal is to introduce you to services ranging from case management companies to local nonprofits, from medical providers to businesses owned by individuals with disabilities, and so much more.

This event will truly be for all ages, kids and adults. We will have interactive areas with music and recreational therapists providing hands-on fun. You can also visit the Kids Department at GPL, where we have a sensory room, play area, interactive walls, and a variety of toys and sensory items to play with. Our Teen Room will be open with interactive walls and games. Library visitors can also get creative upstairs in our Studio. This makerspace features a variety of activities and equipment available daily, and during the fair, the Studio is partnering with recreational therapists from Pure Abilities so that fair participants of all ages can experience hands-on creativity. Join in the fun with Dynamic Music Services, as their music therapists play in our Kids Department. Vendor booths will be set up throughout the library. In addition to learning about their wonderful community resources, vendors will be raffling off a variety of items. And, you won’t want to miss ice cream from the Papa Curl food truck!

I am so excited to not only show visitors GPL’s resources like Sensory Kits and our Sensory Room, but also show our community how many fabulous resources exist here on the southside. As always, you can find a list of disability resources on our website at greenwoodlibrary.us/disabilityresources, but we hope that the Southside Disability Resource Fair will be an opportunity for many of you to visit the library and find new connections within the community.

Katie Friedericks is a Kids Services Librarian at Greenwood Public Library. GPL staff members share in writing this bi-monthly column for the Daily Journal. Send comments to [email protected]