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Bainbridge group builds parade float to raise awareness for those with intellectual disabilities

M’Rissa Curran of Island Time Activities shows off a finished model of the group’s July 4 parade float. - Photo courtesy of Island Time Activities
M’Rissa Curran of Island Time Activities shows off a finished model of the group’s July 4 parade float.
— image credit: Photo courtesy of Island Time Activities

For one group of friends, this July Fourth is already taking on a special meaning.

Individuals from Island Time Activities, a Bainbridge-based nonprofit that supports adults with intellectual disabilities throughout Kitsap County, will be working together to build their first float in the Grand Old Fourth parade.

“We started this as just a social club and throughout the years, it’s developed into something much bigger,” said co-founder Deb Buitenveld.

“As the kids got older, we just kept increasing what we had to offer to fill the void as we saw what was developing in their lives.”

The organization began in 2001 with just two members whose families wanted to give them social support in life outside school.

Today, Island Time Activities works to empower those with intellectual disabilities by providing a social environment where members can be involved in the community and continue developing life skills passed school age.

Peers are tough for those with intellectual disabilities, Buitenveld explained. The gap between people with and without intellectual disabilities becomes really obvious at an early age, she said.

“So even though they might be nice to people with disabilities, they don’t really form true friendships,” Buitenveld said.

“That’s just kinda the way things shake out.”

True friendship is one component of Island Time Activities.

The organization also offers a variety of programs that gives focused attention to each individual’s needs. Here, every participant is given a sense of community, independence, friendship and mutual respect.

For instance, one member may need focused practice on her physical flexibility and strength so she can be more independent from her family at home.

Another member may want to improve her reading skills so she can attend Olympic College.

“We believe that every person should work toward their most independent self,” Buitenveld said.

The next big thing for the group will be to build a July Fourth parade float — a first for the whole organization.

It’s not only a chance for the members to take on a project that will involve them in the community in a new level, but also help raise awareness of the group’s mission to support those with intellectual disabilities.

And the work has already begun.

Members are learning the history of the United States and the Declaration of Independence, practicing new patriotic songs and writing poems.

They have also already sketched designs and built a model for the Island Time Activities float.

For the organization’s members the float celebrates America’s Independence in 1776 just as much as the independence they strive for every day.

In the weeks leading up to the big day, Island Time Activities is asking the community to help make it happen.

Donations of supplies and materials, funds or hands-on help are all appreciated.

Some things the float will need are wood, cardboard, paint, brushes, glue, tape, glitter, tissue paper, fabric, balloons and corn starch.

To arrange a donation or to volunteer, email islandtimeactivities@live.com or call 206-201-3224.

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