Over the years, services to people with disabilities have evolved. Today, people with disabilities lead productive lives and have higher levels of independence than ever imagined. Christian Opportunity Center (COC) maintains a strong belief system on how people supported should be treated.

Every person is created in the image of God and therefore has significant value. COC believes that everybody, including people with disabilities, has God-given potential that should be optimized. This is best accomplished through services that address the needs of the whole person―physical, emotional, intellectual, and spiritual.

People must have meaningful relationships in their lives. Individuals who have the opportunity to develop significant and valued relationships are more likely to have meaningful lives.

Speaking appropriately is the first step toward valuing all people. “People-first language” refers to the person ahead of the disability. For example, it is appropriate to say “people with disabilities” rather than “disabled people.”

People with disabilities need to be active participants in their services. COC’s staff members are partners, not parents. COC strives to ensure people with disabilities have choices in all aspects of their lives while also taking responsibility for their lives.

Rights and responsibilities for people with disabilities go hand in hand. People with disabilities should be taught rights and responsibilities concurrently. Irresponsible behavior should result in realistic consequences for people with disabilities, just as it does for people without disabilities.

Individuals with disabilities are afforded exposure to normal risks commensurate with individual abilities. “Dignity of risk” means allowing reasonable risk-taking and letting people with disabilities learn from their mistakes. Where there is no risk, there is neither growth nor dignity.

Independence and interdependence should balance. COC’s overarching purpose is to provide people with disabilities the opportunity to reach their potential by helping them achieve greater levels of independent living. However, it should be recognized that no one is totally independent. All people, with or without disabilities, depend on others for support.

People with disabilities are treated in a manner consistent with their chronological age regardless of severity of disability. Personal belongings, personal appearances, interpersonal interactions, and activities that are age appropriate help people with disabilities integrate into their communities by reducing stigmas.

Role modeling can significantly influence the development of skills in people with disabilities. People’s behaviors are contagious and are often imitated by people with disabilities. This places a tremendous responsibility on everyone to model appropriate behaviors at all times and to promote Christian values in all interactions with others.