In the earliest years of Kids & Community Partners, when its leaders were envisioning what the non-profit would look like long-term, they discussed a vast array of possibilities. But one option was not even remotely considered.
“We were NOT going to start our own programs,” said director Ryan Ernst. “That was a rule that we memorialized in writing. … And then we broke it.”
Officially, the organization broke the rule in October of 2018 when it opened Colin’s Lodge, a recreation and enrichment program for young adults with cognitive differences. Five years later the Lodge continues to break participation records and change lives.
Membership in the Dayton-based program has grown from 30 to nearly 75. It now offers 40 different programs ranging from yoga to personal training, to photography, art, Zumba, karaoke, self-defense and much more. This year alone members will participate in roughly 25,000 sessions of programming at the Lodge.
“It’s great to see the growth – but not just growth for growth’s sake,” said founding director Gayle Horton. “Our growth has enabled us to help change the lives of more people. Everyone should have a place like the Lodge.”
The Lodge operates on five core values: be your best kind self, have fun with friends, increase independence, enrich social lives for a lifetime and create healthy habits.
Members and their families agree the Lodge’s staff and members live those values every day.
“Colin’s Lodge validates our son,” said the parents of one member. “He feels loved and is treated like an adult. … His laughter and stories about his time at the Lodge are full of pure joy.”
Lodge members and families will celebrate the program’s five-year anniversary with awards and a dance Nov. 17.