What is Equality Through Opportunity?

Jill, an adult with down syndrome, ordered chicken while out to dinner with her friend.  When it arrived, it was already cut into bite sized pieces by the waitress. “I thought I’d just help out a bit,” the waitress said with a smile before walking away.

Andrew told his girlfriend that he planned to audition for The Voice. She told him that they wouldn’t want to have someone in a wheelchair on the show, and he lost his confidence and did not audition.

Carol wanted to be a nurse when she grew up, she loved all the care she’d gotten from nurses as a young girl and found the medical world fascinating, and she wanted to learn all about it.  Her parents were worried that being a nurse would be too hard for Carol, who had suffered from epilepsy most of her life, and they tried to change the subject and talk about other things every time Carol brought it up.

These stories are all too common among people with disabilities. Without meaning to, people who care discourage individuals with disabilities from having dreams and reaching for their highest potential.

Loveland’s philosophy is Dare to Dream, encouraging individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities to think big and reach for their dreams.

Our tagline is Equality Through Opportunity, but what does that really mean?

We’ve asked several Loveland Center participants what opportunity means to them:

Becky, a participant in Venice, said opportunity means the chance to learn new skills. She wants to learn how to garden and, some day, how to cook.

David, a participant in Bradenton, said opportunity means to be able to go to work, and spend time with friends at Loveland on his day off.

Dawn, a Port Charlotte participant, said that opportunities she has been provided at Loveland has allowed her to create community outside of her family.

Polly, another Bradenton participant, said having the opportunity to support her peers gives her a sense of satisfaction and purpose.

Other participants we talked to told us about their dreams for the future.

Jeri, another Venice participant, has a goal to learn how to ride a bike. She said opportunity means getting to be a part of her community, which she does through theatre productions and The Loveland Performing Arts Theatre, through her job at the front desk at Loveland Venice, and by participating in Special Olympics Horseback Riding.

Roy, a participant at Loveland Port Charlotte, said having the chance to volunteer has given him the opportunity to gain real life work experience, helping him on his way towards his goals.

James, a member of the Bradenton ADT program, is working towards his goal of mixing songs as a DJ.

All of the individuals we serve here at Loveland are unique, with their own wants, likes, needs, and desires.  There is one thing they do have in common, just like every other person in our community: they want opportunity to live the life that THEY want to live.