The Wyoming Institute for Disabilities, or WIND, has begun work on several new initiatives after finalizing its latest 5-year strategic plan.
Canyon Hardesty, the director of community education and training at WIND, said there are several projects she is excited about, including their friendships and dating course. Through that program, individuals with disabilities receive training and mentorship on healthy relationships.
“We have conversations about consent. We have conversations about what does or does not -- or what could happen -- on a date or with a friend; what happens within social networking spaces, as well as additional conversations about marriage and sexual health, and all of those pieces truly from a rights perspective of how do we support the rights of individuals with disabilities,” she said.
Hardesty wants WIND to act less as an authority on high, and more as a facilitator of conversations with communities about what is already working and what could be improved.
“Individuals who are living in rural communities are really the experts in their own lives, and our responsibility shouldn’t be to tell them how to live their life. It shouldn’t be ‘how to implement this practice, how to access healthcare.’ It should really be a conversation and a training to say ‘how can we make sure you have the tools you need to access or to address the gaps in your own community?” said Hardesty.
The 5-year strategic plan focuses on best practices in communities, improved use of technology - especially video conferencing and telehealth for rural communities - and becoming a resource for better disability policy for local, state, and national lawmakers.