Photo depicting a group of individuals seated on yoga mats during a class.

Summit Community Center to Open for Local Adults With Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities

by Ronnie Estoque

On March 6, the Summit Community Center (SCC) — a space for adults ages 18–29 with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) — will be opening its doors in the Capitol Hill neighborhood (1830 Broadway Ave.). Overlooking the north end of Cal Anderson Park, the SCC will offer programming and various classes that focus on four core pillars for its community members: education, recreation, community, and growth. 

Alicia Nathan serves as the founding executive director at the SCC and is also a licensed independent clinical social worker. Her experience working in medical, clinical, residential, and educational areas has given her a keen insight into the needs of community members with IDD.

“I really saw firsthand the complexity of navigating this time and the tremendous need for comprehensive services after leaving the school system … because when you leave school, that structure of support … fades away, and you need to now advocate for yourself to receive services,” Nathan said. “This is a marginalized population that we’re working with that was isolated prior to COVID, prior to the pandemic, and the pandemic only exacerbated that.”

Photo depicting Alicia Nathan wearing a white hardhat and black face mask and standing among the construction site.
Alicia Nathan, executive director at the Summit Community Center, on site during construction of the space. (Photo courtesy of Summit Community Center)
Photo depicting a single-file line of individuals crossing a wooden plank bridge on a nature walk.
Summit Community Center members participate in a nature walk during programming. (Photo courtesy of Summit Community Center)

The SCC has created community partnerships with organizations such as the Special Olympics Washington, the University of Washington, Seattle Theatre Group, and Outdoors for All to provide increased programming capacity for members of the space.

The space for the SCC was found late spring of last year, and the organization worked with an architect to begin construction and remodeling of the space. The interior space will be 6,800 square feet, which consists of a recreation room, teaching kitchen, technology room, creative space, and community room.

“A lot of our life skills programming can happen within that [teaching kitchen] space. There are three stations, one of which is wheelchair accessible, so that members who are using wheelchairs can take our cooking classes and still fully engage in those classes,” Nathan said. “We also have a technology room where we’ll be teaching our coding classes, financial literacy, healthy relationships, [and] hopefully a podcast down the line, and our newsletter.”

Currently the SCC has a goal of reaching 100 members within a year of opening and currently has 60 members signed up. One of their biggest goals is to increase their members’ participation in health and wellness activities, recreation, and social engagement.

“I’m so excited to see our members make it come alive, figure out what programming they really want to see, what groups and support they really want to have, and be able to help lead those and take ownership over the space,” Nathan said. “We’re hiring staff with intellectual developmental disabilities — we really do want it to be run by the community.”

The SCC uses an online membership application, which they follow with an in-person intake so that staff can meet community members and determine the type of support they’ll need in the space. Currently, they have a 4-to-1 staffing ratio, with members encouraged to bring an extra person for support throughout programming, if needed. They accept respite hours through the Developmental Disabilities Administration [DDA] and Specialized Habilitation. Private pay options for memberships start at $21.80 per hour.

“We [SCC] are working to build a scholarship fund and bring those rates as low as we can throughout our fundraising as well,” Nathan said.

They plan to be open on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Tuesday and Thursday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

“We don’t want to be the only place our members are participating in and are engaging in their community,” Nathan said. “We want to create those social bridges and those connections so that they can get introduced to something at Summit Community Center, build those relationships, and feel safe and secure enough and supported enough to access those organizations away from Summit after they build those relationships.”

Photo depicting SCC's patio with Cal Anderson Park in the background.
The Summit Community Center patio overlooks Cal Anderson Park in Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood. (Photo courtesy of Summit Community Center)

Ronnie Estoque is a South Seattle-based freelance photographer and videographer. You can keep up with his work by checking out his website.

📸 Featured Image: Summit Community Center members participate in a group yoga activity. (Photo courtesy of Summit Community Center)

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