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Eighth Wonder Helps Raise $450,000 for the Center for Enriched Living

Removing Barriers and Transforming Lives At The Center for Enriched Living
Universal Design elements will allow Rachel to use the building more independently. (Posted by The Center for Enriched Living, Community Contributor)
By Community Contributor The Center for Enriched Living

What seemed like a dream not too long ago is now becoming a reality. The Center for Enriched Living (CEL) is literally Opening the Doors for people with developmental disabilities with an ambitious $3.5 million dollar campaign that will renovate the building with Universal Design. CEL, a non-profit organization in Riverwoods, provides social, recreational and educational opportunities for youth, adults and seniors with developmental disabilities throughout the Chicagoland region.

More than 100 donors have generously given during the silent phase of this campaign to renovate the building and to date we have raised $3.3 million dollars! Now that we’ve raised the renovation funds, we need to equip and furnish the building with universally-designed tables and chairs, cabinets and closets, appliances and equipment. We need you to help us raise an additional $200,000 to furnish by June 30 to make this transformational change to our building.

Twenty-five years after the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), it’s become apparent that accessibility does not mean equality. We are moving beyond creating ADA compliant spaces to incorporating Universal Design throughout our building. Universal Design offers equality and independence – an environment that works for everyone and accommodates a wide range of abilities in a way that is seamless.

“Universal Design is aligned with our vision of a future where every person with a developmental disability is an equal, valued and contributing member of the community,” says Executive Director, Harriet Levy. “We are embracing Universal Design because it removes existing barriers that hinders the independence of CEL members and all people with developmental disabilities.”

Barriers unfortunately begin at the front door for members like Rachel who uses a wheelchair. When she comes to CEL each morning, the door isn’t wide enough to accommodate her wheelchair without assistance. Counters in the kitchen are too high when she learns to prepare a meal. She can’t sit comfortably with her friends in wheelchairs when using computers in the technology room as there’s no space to navigate.

Incorporating Universal Design elements like automatic front doors and widened doorways throughout the building so members like Rachel can enter and navigate independently. Additional changes to the lighting and acoustics will accommodate members with autism and sensory issues. And with universally-designed equipment, furniture and appliances CEL members will each be able to use the building and the equipment within it with equality, respect and independence.

Help us build a stronger community. Watch our video at www.OpeningTheDoors.org and see how, with your help, we are setting a new standard of what should be done in the community. “When you make a gift to this capital campaign, you signify your commitment to the belief that the more we include people with developmental disabilities in the community, the stronger we are as a society,” Levy adds. And with a matching grant in place, every dollar you make to this campaign goes with ever $3 equal to $4

About the Center for Enriched Living
The Center for Enriched Living exists to enhance and enrich the lives of people with developmental and intellectual disabilities – from youth through adulthood. CEL provides a space for our members to grow and learn new social, educational and independent living skills as well as have equal opportunities to fulfill their dreams and become vital participants within their communities. More information available at www.CenterForEnrichedLiving.org.