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How can I provide assistance and services to people with disabilities?

Volunteer! Many of the organizations that provide services to people with disabilities have limited resources and rely heavily on volunteers. Donating your time and energy will make a world of difference both to the organizations and to the individuals being served - and to you.

If you have a special interest in providing assistance to disabled veterans, one way to find an organization in your local community that would welcome your support is to access the Challenge America resource directory at http://www.challengeamerica.com/resource-directory. Entering your specific area of interest (e.g., adaptive recreation) and your zip code will return a list programs close to your location, complete with contact information. 
Joanne Duncan-Carnesciali, CPT,NASM Elite Trainer
Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation
You can volunteer.  The capacity in which you would be utilized would greatly depend upon your education and skills.  As an allied health professional, I've volunteered in nursing homes, at city run recreational centers.  I've also worked in corporate wellness where I hade the opportunity of working with many different populations.

If you are a fitness professional, the National Center on Physical Activity and Disability encourages fitness professionals to become certified as a ACSM/NCPAD Certified Inclusive Fitness Trainer (CIFT).  A CIFT is a fitness professional involved in developing and implementing an individualized exercise program for a person who may have a physical sensory or cognitive disability, and who is healthy or has medical clearance to perform independent physical activity.  CIFT certified professionals hold certifications such as the National Academy of Sports Medicine CPT, PES and CES in addition to holding CPR and AED certifications.  They possess  knowledge of exercise physiology, exercise testing and programming as well as recognizing the importance of being aware of social inclusion for people with disabilities and the American Disabilities Act.

Should this be the route you would like to take, once you earn this credential, it would put you in a better position to volunteer your time in order to put into practice your newly acquried knowledge.

All the best.
Charles J. Sophy, MD
Adolescent Medicine
There are many ways for you to provide services to those with disabilities. Depending if you have formal training in a specific area then jobs in that field is the way to begin looking. 

If you are not formally trained you can call your local Cerebral Palsy, Muscular Dystrophy, or any other public service agency that serves populations with physical or mental/emotional disabilities. 

They will screen you for what it is that you may do in their agency and get you connected. 
CLNGSPN ADMN
Administration
Most non-government entities that provide services to people with disabilities are non-profit organizations. As such, they often have small numbers of staff, and much of their funding comes from grants, endowments, fundraisers, and supporters like you.

Volunteering your time is one way you can help. Volunteers are needed for everything from filing and general office work to serving as buddies for participants during the adaptive programs. It is often volunteers who staff special events/fundraisers for the organization as well. Call or email the adaptive program provider in your area, and let them know you would like to volunteer. If you have a specific set of skills, as a graphic or website designer, for example, let them know as there may be a need for your exact services. Regardless, they will almost certainly have a project for you.

Another way to help is through donation of financial resources. This can be a direct cash donation to the organization, an endowment, purchase of tickets to the organization's special events, or donation of goods that the organization can sell in an event auction or raffle. If you wish to specify that your financial donation be used for a specific program provided by the organization, consider funding a scholarship for one of its participants.

Other ways to get involved include referring friends and family to the program, signing up for the organization's e-newsletter and forwarding it to your own email list, writing letters of support to potential grantors and policy makers, and on and on. If you contact the organization directly, the staff will be happy to discuss the many ways you can get involved.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.