Future recreation programs in Carroll should integrate people with disabilities, the county's Recreation and Parks Board said Wednesday night.
The board voted unanimously to adopt a report that recommends allowing disabled people to participate in the same recreation programs as others who are not.
Carroll County could be a "front-runner" in the movement to integrate disabled people into recreation programs, said Robin Farinholt, who chaired the committee that drafted the report.
"It's tricky. It takes more planning. Fear and apprehension is a very real thing," she said, "but everybody benefits."
Not much has been written in recreation journals about integrating programs, Ms. Farinholt said. Carroll officials could publish information about their efforts and lead the way, she said.
Ms. Farinholt is principal at the Carroll County Education Center, which teaches students with cognitive and physical disabilities.
She said the county's Therapeutic Recreation Council plans activities for disabled people and could provide expertise about integrating other activities. Barbara Gundina, a county therapeutic recreational specialist, also may help.
Integration of recreation programs would not cost more, Ms. Farinholt said, but would help disabled people develop social skills and increase their self-esteem, physical skills and overall health.
She told the board of a young man with cerebral palsy who has succeeded in learning martial arts.
"He was really an inspiration to me," she said.
Ms. Farinholt also said a young woman with "cognitive deficits" who played on a softball team she coached persevered until she finally got a hit. When the young woman made it on base, the entire team cheered.
Disabled people often have more leisure time, but sometimes have problems getting transportation to activities, she said. Integrated programs probably would be closer to their homes, she said.
The board voted to accept the committee's four-point report, which was first presented to the board in March. The report says the county Department of Recreation and Parks should:
* Not develop future segregated recreation programs, but not abolish current programs.
* Work to increase awareness and acceptance of disabled people as citizens who deserve recreation opportunities.
* Provide training for those who run recreation programs, and keep a list of consultants and a resource library.
* Strive to make disabled persons aware of integrated recreation program in their communities.