Waypoint Adventure challenges people with disabilities to discover their purpose_ talents_ and strengths through the transforming power of adventure.   We are committed to implementing systems of evaluation to understand the impact of Waypoint programs on the lives of people with disabilities and their communities.  Through collaboration with the Social Innovation Forum_ Public Service Economics_ and Boston University_s Occupational Therapy Department_ Waypoint Adventure programs are designed to make a difference for people with disabilities. Outcomes focus on_ __Sense of belonging _ the degree to which an individual feels like s_he fits in and matters to a group. __Self-esteem _ a person_s perception of their inherent value and worth to the self and world. __Self-efficacy _ a person_s belief in their ability to complete a task or reach a goal. __Emerging skills _ skills that an individual is _already working on_ outside of a Waypoint program. These skills are meaningful and individualized to a person and are skills that support increased function such as communication_ self-regulation_ or problem solving.
Research has reported that people with disabilities often feel as if they don_t belong_ have low self-esteem_ lack self-efficacy_ and are working on skills that support function. _1_  Over the past 2 years_ at the end of Waypoint programs_ we asked over 400 participants to complete program evaluation surveys and received a 50_ response rate. Responding participants had a range of conditions_ including autism spectrum disorders_ visual impairments_ and intellectual or physical disabilities.     These were the findings_  __91_ of participants report feeling a sense of belonging in a Waypoint group __85_ report a feeling of high self-esteem after participating in a Waypoint program __83_ report a feeling of high self-efficacy as a result of participating in a Waypoint program __90_ report having developed a new skill  Common responses to open-ended questions include_  __What participants valued_ Making new friendships_ learning how to get back in a boat when I flip over_ learning teamwork __Advice participants would give others_ Trust your abilities_ challenge yourself_ don_t be afraid_ help each other __What participants would change_ Nothing_ kayak longer_ bring a friend next time
Waypoint asked teachers and program directors to complete post-adventure questionnaires. They frequently report that students are_ __Remembering and transferring the lessons and strategies they learned on a Waypoint program back into the classroom __Participating more often and more appropriately in classroom activities __More willing to try things that they might otherwise shy away from __Finding ways to support other classmates  School personnel attribute this growth to Waypoint experiences. Here is what they are saying_ __I have seen students go from being afraid and anxious to being confident and able to take safe risks in their education and in their personal lives. _ Boston Public School_ MA __Going rock climbing with Waypoint provided a real life example for students of how grit is important not only in the classroom but throughout their lives. After we returned to the classroom I found that as a teacher I was able to tie the grit and determination needed to go rock climbing to grit needed to navigate academics and even peer relationships. It has become an ever present metaphor. _ Arlington Public Schools_ MA __This experience gave them the opportunity to truly step out of their comfort zone and consider how the strategies used to successfully climb the rocks may enable them to reach other goals they are working towards such as graduating from high school_ finding roommates and housing and landing their first jobs. _ LABBB Collaborative ___Female student_s_ growth has been huge_ I think a big part of her growth_ her comfort level_ her ability to challenge herself_ was in part due to the relationship Waypoint staff developed with her and thus challenged her_This allowed her to push herself and learn something about herself and grow in her confidence in her abilities. _ Full Circle Next Wave _Somerville Public Schools_ MA_
Parents report that Waypoint programs are making an impact on their child_s life and the life of their family. Here are a few of their testimonies_ ___It_s too infrequent that we see our son bursting with pride and a real sense of accomplishment._ ___The most positive impact I see is in his growing confidence in his ability to navigate his world day-to-day._ ___It was amazing to watch both of my kids enjoy the outdoors in a way I never thought possible. Our daughter was her best self today._ ___This showed me that we can be much more adventurous and active as a family._  Waypoint will continue to conduct systems of evaluation to ensure that our programs are continually improving and positively impacting the lives of people with disabilities and their communities.   1. Hammel_ J._ Magasi_ S._ Heinemann_ A._ Whiteneck_ G._ Bogner_ J._ _ Rodriguez_ E. _2008_. What does participation mean_ An insider perspective from people with disabilities. Disability and Rehabilitation_ 30_19__ 1445_1460.
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