Program seeks to integrate all individuals into the community

For many people, enjoying parks and recreational opportunities is quite easy, but it’s more difficult for individuals with developmental and intellectual disabilities. That’s why Developing Potential, Inc. is working to ensure everyone is able to boost their health and wellness through community participation.

“Health and wellness is just as important for the individuals we serve,” says Amy Cox, development director. “They are certainly capable, and it’s our job to support those efforts.”

Developing Potential has been serving individuals with disabilities in the Kansas City area for 25 years. They currently serve about 160 individuals with locations in Kansas City, Independence and Lee’s Summit.

In recent years, the program’s focus on health and wellness has involved offering yoga classes and taking the individuals to local parks as well as Plant Fitness. Gardening has been an emphasis as well, and each location offers opportunities to develop such skills. A dietitian from HyVee also comes to teach nutrition. 

“We help them get out and experience wellness activities in lots of different formats so they can find something that fits their lifestyle,” Cox says.

Within a few years, Developing Potential will be opening a new and expanded location in Lee’s Summit. In the new facility they will be able to invite the public to join them for yoga classes as well as serve the public through a coffee shop, giving the community a chance to interact with the individuals they serve.

Additionally, having a registered nurse on staff has increased their ability to serve individuals with a higher level of medical need. Nurse Heather Brock is certified in developmental disabilities and a member of the Developmental Disability Nurses Association.

Brock works to ensure all the individuals are provided with a nursing assessment and medication reviews, and she provides patient advocacy as well. Developing Potential keeps their own medical records, so Brock can compare her notes with the doctor’s notes to make sure she and her staff, the individual, doctor and family are all in agreement on care. 

“She is the connector piece between the physical support for the individual and the education to help them do better,” Cox says. 

Brock says in nursing school she didn’t receive much training and exposure to intellectual and developmental disabilities, and neither do many doctors and nurses. Because of this, her role is to help educate them to ensure the individuals receive the best care possible.

Overall, Developing Potential hopes to model to the community how to interact with and integrate individuals with disabilities into the community.

“You can’t have a bad day when you walk in those doors,” Brock says. “I love seeing the smiles and knowing I am truly making a difference every single day.”