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Providing information, education, and training to build knowledge, develop skills, and change attitudes that will lead to increased independence, productivity, self determination, integration and inclusion (IPSII) for people with developmental disabilities and their families.

Ministry Bridges Gaps To Inclusion
March 1, 2004

KIRKLAND, WASHINGTON--Seventeen years ago, Reverend Henk Wapstra founded Bridge Ministries, an ecumenical Christian-based ministry dedicated to help more churches fully include people with disabilities.

Today, the non-profit organization has a staff of nine, a nine-member volunteer Board of Directors, and over 350 volunteers in churches across the Puget Sound area.

Bridge Ministries helps congregations understand the importance of making their churches accessible, of actively encouraging people with disabilities to participate in church activities and events, and of having a welcoming approach to worshipers with disabilities -- without diminishing their dignity.

"Working in the church, we saw that people with visible disabilities were greeted and then ignored," Donna Whitmore, Bridge's associate director and chaplain of volunteer ministries, told the Seattle Times. "The assumption is that they have problems rather than contributions. That keeps some from deciding to engage because they think it will be a one-way relationship rather than reciprocal."

Related:
"Group wants access for all in churches" (Seattle Times)

http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/localnews/2001867414_bridge28e.html
Bridge Ministries
http://www.bridgemin.org/

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The GCDD is funded under the provisions of P.L. 106-402. The federal law also provides funding to the Minnesota Disability Law Center,the state Protection and Advocacy System, and to the Institute on Community Integration, the state University Center for Excellence. The Minnesota network of programs works to increase the IPSII of people with developmental disabilities and families into community life.