Seniors: Empowering people with disabilities to live independently

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With the right resources, people with disabilities can continue to live independently. (File Photo)
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By Elizabeth Kumar

The ENDependence Center of Northern Virginia is a community resource and advocacy center for people with disabilities. ECNV’s mission is to end dependence by empowering people with disabilities to live independently.

ECNV is a cross-disability organization that works with people of all ages who have every type of disability. Founded in 1982, ECNV is one of 15 centers for independent living in Virginia. There are more than 400 CILs nationwide.

ECNV serves Arlington, Fairfax and Loudoun counties and the cities of Alexandria, Fairfax and Falls Church. Most of its services are provided at no cost.

ECNV programs and services

Information and referral

ECNV connects people with disabilities and their families to community resources that promote and support independence. Trained staff provides information on topics including housing, transportation, employment, assistive technology, education, recreation and disability-specific resources.

Peer counseling

ECNV provides peer counseling, mentoring and support services to people with disabilities. Peer counselors share their disability-related knowledge, skills and experience to assist others in setting and achieving goals.

Independent living

Independent living skills training focuses on knowledge and skills that prevent unnecessary institutionalization of persons with disabilities. ECNV frequently assists people who want to transition out of nursing homes to living on their own.

Transportation and mobility

ECNV travel trainers provide individual instruction on using fixed-route public transportation. This program is underwritten by and conducted in partnership with the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority. ECNV has a DME program which accepts donations of mobility aids including walkers, wheelchairs, scooters and hospital beds. ECNV then reconditions the mobility aids and loans or gives them to people who need them to enhance their independence.

Keeping the community connected

ECNV’s website, newsletter and calendar keep people updated on disability community activities, new products and services and news on advocacy efforts. Its personal assistant registry is a resource people with disabilities can use when recruiting new or substitute personal assistants. ECNV’s fully accessible offices include a conference room with an assisted listening system. Disability support groups are encouraged to make reservations to use this space.

Advocacy

People with disabilities become effective self-advocates with ECNV’s guidance. Through systems advocacy, the organization supports legislative and regulatory policies that benefit the disability community. It assists people of all ages through the CCC + Medicaid Waiver Program. Community education and technical assistance services are provided to public and private sector entities to assist in improving accessibility. In addition, youth transition services help teenagers and young adults ages 16 through 26 transition from high school to post-secondary education, the workforce and living independently in the community.

Employment

ECNV assists people with job readiness and honing job search skills through training and placement assistance. Medicaid services ECNV has a Medicaid Waiver team dedicated to helping people with disabilities receive the support they need. It specifically works with people on the Elderly or Disabled with Service Facilitation for the Commonwealth Coordinated Care Plus Medicaid Waiver.

Social groups

ECNV has several social groups that meet monthly in the Northern Virginia area. These include the Endependents, TGIF and Connect 4 Social Hour. Connect 4 Social Hour is for ages 18 to 39 and the rest are open to all ages.

Elizabeth Kumar, M.Ed. is communications manager and peer mentor with ECNV. ECNV is located at 2300 Clarendon Blvd., Suite 250, in Arlington. Contact ECNV at 703-525-3268 or www.ecnv.org.

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