LA CROSSE, Wis. (WKBT) - WisCorps is launching a new program this summer that is designed to help people with disabilities in more ways than one.
The group is called the Inclusive Crew, and it’s designed to give individuals ages 18-25 who have a disability the chance to earn money while helping low-income people and the elderly.
The goal is for the group to work on projects to help increase access around the community, while giving those with disabilities a chance to become independent.
Nestled near the bluffs in La Crosse, Barb and Dave Erickson overlook the park they built in honor of their son Chad, who was paralyzed following surgery back in in 1989. He died six years later.
"It is totally accessible. We're close to Hillview Nursing Home. We've got the 55-plus assisted living complexes right next door. We have paved trails. There's no barriers out here,” Barb Erickson said.
"If they want to fish, all the docks here are accessible, so you can get out wheelchair right up here and do some fishing,” Dave Erickson said.
The park opened three years ago, but is now showing signs of erosion, making the pathways that surround the park less accessible.
"We had small rocks, and we knew it would be a struggle to keep them around,” Dave Erickson said.
This summer, Chad Erickson Memorial Park will be one of the first projects with WisCorps' new Inclusvie Crew.
"Just so everyone can utilize have the same experience that everyone else can in the city,” Willie Bittner of WisCorp said.
Four positions within the crew are specifically for people who are partially deaf, vision, or physically impaired.
The crew will work on creating raised flower beds for the elderly and making trails in the area more wheelchair accessible.
"Right now, they are the most underemployed demographic in this country, are individuals with disabilities. We're trying to raise awareness and actually put them in real-life jobs,” Bittner said.
The Erickson's are proud to be a part of the project.
"They're going to adapt their equipment so that these special young people can use their hands and do what needs to be done and have a big project and feel that pride of having a good job, and a job well done,” Barb Erickson said.
The crew would not be possible without the Robert and Eleanor Franke Charitable Foundation fund and the La Crosse Community Foundation.
WisCorps will also provide housing for the crew and teach them skills, such as cooking and using public transportation, that will help them to be able to live on their own.
There are spaces remaining on the crew. The deadline to apply is June 9.
Call 608-799-2570 for more information.
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