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Upcycling Sheltered Workshops assesses prevailing practices in community-based facilities for people with developmental disabilities and argues that it is time for a fundamental change in the way these programs are run. Susan Dlouhy and Patty Mitchell offer a revolutionary alternative, the Creative Abundance Model, and outline both its principles and its application. The new model turns sheltered workshops away from routine to creativity, and from staff-directed activities to participant-directed activities.

The Creative Abundance Model seeks to do away with the busywork or repetitive tasks that are often the only activities offered to people in workshop environments. It presents a structured but more open program, one that incorporates art, music, and other creative pursuits to free participants to explore their own interests and to develop their skills and talents. The book consists of two sections: advocacy for the model and a practical, how-to plan for implementation. The authors include numerous and well-tested examples of activities that workshop staff can use to introduce the Creative Abundance Model; after this initial phase, the participants themselves help steer the program in the direction of their interests. The authors include numerous color photographs to illustrate the methods discussed in the text and to document the effect of the activities on the emotional state and well-being of the participants.

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