WYE MILLS — The Arc Central Chesapeake Region, a nonprofit committed to providing people with intellectual and developmental disabilities the opportunity to gain independence, recently partnered with Caroline County Schools, Benedictine and the Chesapeake Center to host “A Night at the Community Improv.”
The student-led interactive event, supported by the Arc Maryland and the Ethan Saylor Alliance, was designed to foster dialogue between people with disabilities, their families and law enforcement.
The evening featured games and activities led by students with disabilities who were placed in groups with first responders and law enforcement deputies. The goal of each activity was to help build a rapport between people of all abilities and teach communication strategies that many vulnerable residents in the area will need in an emergency or life-threatening event.
The Arc CCR has been supporting law enforcement to better understand how to communicate with people with I/DD by meeting with police officers, emergency/medical first responders and sheriffs during the past two months. During these meetings, the Arc CCR staff share information and strategies on how to read body language, identify cues for listening and understanding, and understand some of the reactions of people with I/DD that can be easily misunderstood.
“We have a lot of wonderful people in our community, and through this event we have learned to communicate more effectively,” Talbot County Sheriff Joe Gamble said. “Evenings like this go a long way to open communication between police officers and people with disabilities. My deputies and I made a number of new friends that will allow us to better serve people with disabilities. It was a great night!”
To date, more than 65 members of law enforcement and first responders have participated in an informational event hosted by The Arc CCR and its partners.
“The Arc CCR is proud of the interest and genuine excitement from Eastern Shore law enforcement and first responders who have attended one of our events and created friendships with people with disabilities and their families,” said Jonathon Rondeau, CEO of the Arc Central Chesapeake Region. “We hope that the dialogue will continue. These types of events allow for a better understanding for people with I/DD and their communication needs and could really improve their safety in emergency situations.”