Trenton Health Team invites community members with disabilities and those caring for them to assist in an initiative to identify and eliminate barriers — physical and structural — preventing their full participation in community life and blocking access to helpful services and resources.

THT recently launched “Collaborating for a Healthy, Inclusive Trenton,” a community initiative supported by the New Jersey Division of Disability Services(DDS) to incorporate the skills, contributions, needs, and priorities of those with disabilities into the ongoing work of THT and its community partners.

“THT staff working in the community raised a concern, saying many clients with disabilities are being overlooked and are struggling to access services,” said THT Executive Director Gregory Paulson.

In August THT will begin hosting a series of “listening sessions” enabling residents with disabilities to share their concerns and ideas for improving access to services and supports.

To learn more, contact THT Program Manager Stephanie Doering at 609-256-4555 ext. 187.

“We want to end the exclusion and invisibility experienced by people with disabilities,” said Doering, whose mother uses a wheelchair. “Our listening sessions aim to ensure those with disabilities are at the table, helping to plan programs and policies that affect our community.”

Trenton residents with disabilities are less likely to access services and support for which they are eligible than those in wealthier communities. Many are unaware services are available, while others are unable to navigate the application system and lack a strong advocate to assist them, if desired, THT has found.

A lack of accommodations also prevents many from fully participating in community life, including civic and neighborhood planning and decision-making. Such exclusion can render people with disabilities virtually invisible to policymakers, Doering said.

Participating residents will become an integral part of planning, designs, and service coordination work for the long-term, with the ultimate goal of establishing new community-wide norms that welcome all.

In addition, THT will be conferring with neighborhood associations and other local groups, city and county policymakers, and community partners to address how neighborhood revitalization, housing quality, COVID vaccinations, and food insecurity affects those with disabilities.

“We are intentionally adopting a more inclusive lens that includes perspectives of people with disabilities to evaluate current community services, as well as plans going forward,“ Paulson said.

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