Let the good times roll

Community Connections program strikes it big
Shawn Foucher
Mar 4, 2014
Jan Warren intently stared down the lone pin failing to fall after her thunderous, near-perfect first throw.

She locked her eyes onto the white target and flung a smooth shot.

Her ball lightly tapped the pin, causing it to wobble a bit before finally collapsing, signifying an all-important spare.

Jan’s parents, Castalia residents Jackie and John Warren, roared in delight for the mark as Jan pumped her fists.

“She loves bowling, and she looks forward to these events” Jackie said. “She never hesitates to come”

Along with about 15 other adults, Jan participated in a bowling outing this past Thursday at Cedar Lanes.

Coined Community Connections, adults receiving services from the Erie County Board of Developmental Disabilities frequently participate in a series of fun activities.

In March, for instance, board officials scheduled about 30 events, all encouraging adults with disabilities to socialize with others in active settings.    This month, in addition to bowling, adults can decorate cakes, attend a professional hockey game and dance with friends.

“We want to find out what people are interested in and get them out into the community and develop their skills for them to gain independence and make friendships,” said Pam Litzenberg, a board community support specialist.

Qualifying adults pay a small fee to take part in Community Connections. But most program expenses come from board funds, derived largely through area property taxes. The board’s budget totals about $8 million this year.

The board’s ultimate goal revolves around both promoting and creating opportunities for people with disabilities to become more self-sufficient.

With about 90 active adults enrolled in this program, Community Connections helps satisfy the board’s goal, officials said.

“Part of our mission is for people to have a good life, and life is defined by individuality,” board superintendent Carrie Beier said.

“This program tries to find a way to connect people while letting them discover and expand their interests and build friendships”