95.3 / 88.5 FM Grand Rapids and 95.3 FM Muskegon
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
Available On Air Stations
News

SOMI's Unified Sports and Inclusion Center plays host to eight organizations serving people with disabilities

People standing in Disability Advocates of Kent County's lobby
Disability Advocates of Kent County
/
SOMI's Unified Sports and Inclusion Center welcomes eight organizations serving people with disabilities into its space

According to Tim Hileman, President and CEO of Special Olympics of Michigan, this collection of organizations will “show the world the importance of community and inclusion – a campus where all gifts and all abilities are celebrated, a campus that will not only raise awareness but raise expectations.”

Special Olympics Michigan’s Unified Sports and Inclusion Center is still under construction, but that won’t halt move-in day for its newest residents. Eight organizations serving children and adults with disabilities plan to call the new space, which sits on 68th street in Grand Rapids, home.

“It’s going to be a great front door into the disability resource community," Dave Bulkowski, Executive Director at Disability Advocates of Kent County said.

The nonprofit strives to eliminate systemic barriers and enhance programs so that people with disabilities can live the self-directed lives they choose. In addition to building accessible workspaces, which feature lighting adjustments, color coded floor patterns and sliding doors, the non-profit is welcoming a Home Accessibility Center where people can renovate and retrofit their homes to their own needs.

Bulkowski said the new center, plus an array of other organizations under one roof should bolster representation and access.

“People will find one of us, which will then find all of us, into the wider disability community." he said.

One of his new neighbors is Jaquie Johnson, CEO and President of Thresholds a non-profit, social service agency supporting Kent County residents with developmental disabilities. She said she looks forward to opportunities to problem solve and advocate together.

“I think the synergy will be really powerful here. We don’t know what we’re going to come up with yet, but I think we really feel this is just a prime opportunity," Johnson said.

The two leaders say a price cut in rent doesn’t hurt either. While Johnson estimates her team will save $25,000 a year making the move, Bulkowski’s will save around $30,000-$35,000.

According to Tim Hileman, President and CEO of Special Olympics of Michigan, this collection of organizations will “show the world the importance of community and inclusion – a campus where all gifts and all abilities are celebrated, a campus that will not only raise awareness but raise expectations.”

When finished, the Unified Sports and Inclusion Center will be the world’s largest special Olympics facility to date.

Related Content