Why does SMILE Mass want to create a vacation retreat for families raising kids and adults with disabilities?
Answer: A vacation can become a low priority for individuals with disabilities. It often gets really complicated, and more often than not, the person with a disability will need physical support in a new environment, due to lack of proper adapted facilities. To make matters worse, about 75% of adults with disabilities are unemployed, not by choice, but most often because of their disability. Families raising children/adults with disabilities are facing different obstacles. Many families have multiple kids, and typically only one with a disability. This becomes a struggle when they request a handicapped accessible room, because these rooms often only come with 1 king size bed, meaning it sleeps 3 people at most. So, to accommodate a typical family of 4, the family would need to rent 2 rooms. Many families raising kids with disabilities are already financially burdened, partly because many of the extra medical necessities needed are not paid by a normal insurance. Other times it is because there are little or no appropriate accommodations available. Surrounding facilities have a big impact on easing the burden on the family/caregiver, as well. We want to help families enjoy a well-deserved vacation that is truly handicapped accessible. Where families can build happy, healthy memories, despite disability. We want families to feel typical, and to be able to do some of the things the rest of the world takes for granted.
Why is a vacation retreat so important for families raising kids and adults with disabilities?
Answer: Caregivers of children/adults with disabilities need additional supports to alleviate the emotional and physical stresses, as well as the financial burdens that they face. The SMILE Mass vacation home will provide many added features, so everyone can navigate throughout the house; like a seamless entrance, proper bathing facilities, ramps, Hoyer systems, roll in showers and so much more. It will be a home away from home where everyone can play and have fun. Where no space is off limits, even if you are wheelchair bound; a place where families can simply be a family. And, with a bit of luck, the SMILE Mass house will be a designer house, that can help families become better educated and informed about new products, that are available on the market for their own homes.
Reference: The Health of Primary Caregivers of Children With Cerebral Palsy: How Does It Compare With That of Other Canadian Caregivers? Page 3
Who will visit the SMILE Mass vacation home?
Answer: Anyone with a disability, either short or long term. There are 54.4 million Americans that have one or more disabilities, and it is estimated that 35 million people or 12% reported a severe disability.
Where will the first SMILE Mass vacation home be located and when will it be ready?
Answer: The first SMILE Mass vacation home will be located on Cape Cod, Massachusetts. We are actively working with a realtor and looking for that perfect property on Cape Cod. Our goal is to have the first vacation home operating in the summer of 2018.
Why do we need vacation homes for families with disabled children/adults? Aren’t there already accommodations for disabled individuals?
Answer: While it is true that some accommodations for disabled persons already exist, there is still a need for the types of accommodations SMILE Mass will provide.
Often times, hotels advertise they are handicapped accessible, but in reality, they don’t meet high enough standards. Many don’t have roll-in showers, a necessity for a person in a wheelchair. Other times, there are not adequate ramps. A single stair is an obstacle for a wheelchair-bound person. We are going to go above and beyond ADA guidelines to Universally Accepted Standards.
Why can’t families raising children/adults with disabilities stay in typical accommodations?
Answer: Families raising children/adults with disabilities are often in need of more space and many times a special needs child/adult has a disability that is not necessarily visible. It could be acting younger than chronological age, having sensory issues, often means needing more personal space. To those with sensory issues, the noise from busy hallways and public spaces could be a disruption to the child/adult. Having larger space available for families raising children/adults with disabilities is a dream come true as there are often many large pieces of medical equipment needed to accommodate the child/adult with disabilities. Giving a family an opportunity to borrow different kinds of equipment (provided by SMILE Mass) to entertain and keep the child/adult busy will create an enjoyable environment for the whole family and memories that will last a lifetime.
What makes SMILE Mass’s vacation home unique from other accommodations in the area?
Answer: We are going to make a vacation retreat that is truly handicapped accessible, with amenities that any family would only dream of. Some of these amenities include a beach wheelchair, a Hoyer lift, a jogging stroller, adaptive bicycle, a technologically friendly house with Smartboards, stations to accommodate communication devices, switches and so much more. In the future, we will look into including overnight nursing, a personal chef, a concierge service, babysitting (PCA), etc. Some and perhaps many of these services would incur an additional charge.
Where will the funding come from to purchase and upgrade the home to become handicapped accessible?
Answer: SMILE Mass will have various fundraisers throughout the year as well as apply for grants.