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Special Olympics of Michigan set to be a one-stop-shop for accessibility

Aerial view of Special Olympics Michigan's renovated Unified Sports and Inclusion Center
Special Olympics Michigan
Special Olympics of Michigan set to be a one-stop-shop for accessibility

Eight local organizations specializing in serving people with disabilities are reportedly set to move into SOMI's newly renovated Unified Sports and Inclusion Center.

Special Olympics of Michigan will soon be host to a one-stop-shop for accessible, inclusive services inside its new Unified Sports and Inclusion Center. The building will reportedly host eight specialty organizations serving people with disabilities.

The property is a renovation of the old South Christian High School in Grand Rapids and is set to be the world’s largest Special Olympics facility. Peggy Helsel, Development Director at Disability Advocates of Kent County, explained with all the extra space came a great opportunity for collaborations across local organizations.

“Special Olympics Michigan purchased and realized what they needed was fields, gyms things like that and here’s this whole high school, so they began reaching out to partner agencies that serve many of the same folks and said 'Hey we got all this space, do you want to join us?' It was an easy 'yes,'" she said.

After launching a $2.5 million capital campaign, Disability Advocates of Kent County is set to move in this April. The location will become its new headquarters, complete with a new home accessibility center.

“It's what I consider a showcase of everything that can be made to keep people with disabilities safe in their home. There's a kitchen. There's a living area. There's a bathroom, and we have all these examples of what can be done," Helsel said.

As eight other like-minded organizations also make the move over, Helsel adds she’s excited to offer the community a larger access point for interconnected services.

“One of the associations is the Down Syndrome Association of West Michigan and one thing we've been able to do through the years for their families is help them through the process of applying for social security disability," she explained. "The association has said to us 'You know Disability Advocates can help you but they’re way across town.' Now they can say disability advocates can help you with that, and they're right around the corner.”

Editor's note: At the time of this publication, our subject told us nine organizations would be entering into the Unified Sports Inclusion Center. That number has since changed to eight.

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