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Cyclists representing The Center visited the Barber National Institute
Posted on Wednesday, July 27, 2016 at 1:42 PM

Cyclists representing The Center in Houston, Texas visited the Barber National Institute on Monday, July 25, as part of their 3,500-mile bike ride across the country this summer to raise funds and awareness for adults with intellectual disabilities.

Representatives from the campaign, known as PURSUIT FOR THOSE WITH disABILITIES, meet with staff at the Barber National Institute to discuss residential, job readiness and placement programs for adults with disabilities.

In the first activity on their agenda, the visitors attended the monthly award ceremony recognizing the achievements of adults in the Transitional Work Service at the Barber National Institute.  The adults, who are working to develop the soft and hard skills for eventual community employment, are awarded for accomplishments in training such as perfect attendance and willingness to take on new responsibilities.

The visitors also learned about the school’s adapted bike program and technology initiatives, visited the Institute’s Senior Center, and saw a demonstration of the arts program for adults before late afternoon meetings with staff and administrators from various programs.

The Barber National Institute is among nearly 30 nonprofit agencies across the country that administrators from Houston will visit to share best practices, raise awareness and jumpstart a national effort to attract more attention and resources to serve adults with intellectual disabilities.

The cross-country bike ride is part of an effort to raise $11 million for The Center in Houston, a non-profit organization that has been providing services to adults with intellectual disabilities for more than six decades.  The Pursuit campaign is led by David Baldwin, an energy executive in Houston who has long championed The Center and its clients.  Along with his wife, Maire, Baldwin has assembled a team of more than 200 volunteers, riders, sponsors and support staff to drive the effort.

“The life expectancy of adults with developmental disabilities has doubled over the last few decades,” Baldwin said. “The population has grown and the needs are greater. The Center in Houston, and most of its peer agencies around the country, faces new challenges serving adults with special needs. Nationwide, as a society we have to become better equipped to serve this population adequately – in facilities, resources and care.  Our effort is focusing on working together to find the most innovative ways to achieve this goal.”                                

Information compiled from the educational sessions at the Barber National Institute and other organizations across the country will be compiled for a presentation and publication later in the year.

The ride began on June 6 in Oregon, and will conclude Aug. 3 in Delaware. Along the way, riders will pass through Portland, Boise, Yellowstone National Park, Badlands National Park, the Twin Cities, Madison, Chicago, Cleveland and Pittsburgh, before ending near Washington, D.C.

Baldwin emphasized that this is about much more than a bike ride.

“This is a journey in every sense of the word,” he said. “Thirty-five hundred miles is a long trek, but it’s nothing compared to the challenges that this population faces every day.”

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