‘Giving them their power’: ICAN Missouri building self-sufficiency among disabled

Randolph County agency teaches children, adults to overcome challenges through patience and care

Fixing a snack. Balancing the checkbook. Being home alone.

These are simple tasks most of us take for granted, but they’re simply not second nature for those facing developmental disabilities such as autism or cerebral palsy. Dawn Perkins, executive director of ICAN Missouri Foundation, says her organization is dedicated to providing these individuals a life as full as anyone else’s.

“For people that have spent most of their life being looked over, it’s our mission to put them in the spotlight and make sure they shine,” says Perkins.

ICAN Missouri runs several programs for children and adults both on- and off-site in Moberly, MO. Following a diagnosis and referral to the organization, children take part in the Children’s Program after school while adults are taken under the wing of caretakers on weekdays—sometimes for full-time care.

“Our staff assist our individuals in life scenarios that would otherwise pose a significant challenge,” says Perkins. “We really focus on open dialogue to facilitate communication and create greater independence.”

A day at ICAN Missouri can mean any number of activities, but one thing is certain – they are kept busy, whether it’s budgeting online for grocery trips, doing cooking classes or dissecting news stories.

“For many of these individuals, their parents can’t leave them for even an hour at home by themselves. What a change in everyone’s lives it would be if we could teach the individual to handle themselves at home for an hour or two,” says Perkins.

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Enbridge is committed to improving quality of life in the communities where we work and live. In 2018, our investments in accessibility initiatives have included:

  • A rebuild of Chief Joseph Park in Harlowtown, MT ($1,000);
  • Resurfacing work at the Normal, IL community facility where the Miracle League of Central IL hosts play activities for children with physical and mental challenges ($2,500);
  • An all-inclusive playground being built by RISE Community Services of Warrensburg, MO ($2,500);
  • Special Olympics Oklahoma’s Law Enforcement Torch Run in Cushing, OK ($5,000);
  • The William’s Walk Memorial Trail Ride, held annually by equine-assisted therapy agency Right Path Riding Academy in Drumright, OK ($2,500); and
  • Therapeutic riding opportunities for special-needs children at the Small Miracles Therapeutic Horseback Riding Center in Kingsport, TN ($300).

ICAN Missouri is currently building an outdoor recreation area for reflection and enjoyment. Enbridge has supported ICAN Missouri since 2014 for various activities, including annual picnics, and our recent $1,000 donation has been used to purchase tables and benches for this recreation space.

Perkins notes that while the ultimate goal of the organization would be to transition individuals out of their care into full independence, the reality of the situation is that care is long-term and often permanent.

“We take our accomplishments and run with them. For an individual to even accelerate to being independent in one task, it’s a great achievement,” says Perkins, recalling a recent proud moment when a client made herself nachos—a major breakthrough that included budgeting, grocery shopping and kitchen dexterity.

“It was a really special moment for all of us,” says Perkins. “To see her face – it was like she won the Nobel Peace Prize.”