In 1948, the United Nations announced its Universal Declaration of Human Rights. This milestone covered civil and political rights as well as economic, social, and cultural rights. It paved the way for human rights legislation and positive changes in years ahead.
It has only been a few decades since individuals with disabilities were destined to live their lives within the walls of institutional facilities, either because of societal bias or lack of supports elsewhere. As a result, they were often isolated from the world and their family. Opportunities for learning, employment, and self-direction were limited, and overcrowding was often the norm. In short, most were inappropriately placed and, as a result, denied basic human rights.
Disability activists started to bring awareness to the injustice of this reality. With time, new legislation paved the way for disabled individuals to claim their place in society and their communities.
Black Hills Works was founded on this very belief that individuals with disabilities should have the same rights as their peers who do not have disabilities. Our roots trace back to 1958 when a group of parents in Rapid City made the radical decision that their children with disabilities deserved to live at home and receive an education.
Their decision more than sixty years ago has snowballed into enormous change for the lives of people with disabilities in South Dakota. In fact, Black Hills Works ensures these human rights are a reality for individuals with disabilities every single day.
Accordingly, the supports and programs that we offer are person-centered and designed to serve the whole person.
We address these basic rights in many ways. Black Hills Works offers a large number of living options for the people we support, based on their individualized needs and abilities. They live in community houses with a few friends, in small group homes, or in their own apartments. If a living situation isn’t right for them, we work with them to find a better fit.
Likewise, we offer a robust employment services department to help individuals with disabilities find meaningful employment that matches their interests and abilities. Black Hills Works also provides transportation to connect the people we serve with other aspects of their lives. This could be volunteering in town, performing in musical theater with Flutter Productions, making art at Suzie Cappa Art Center, participating in educational adventures in the Black Hills, grocery shopping, or attending medical appointments.
Our supports go well beyond these examples. Everything we do is to make our vision a reality – to create a community where all people are good neighbors, valued friends, productive workers, respected leaders, and caring volunteers. They deserve nothing less.
There is still work to be done, but much progress has been made. We are heartened by the support of our community and appreciate all who have embraced our mission and the people we support. Thank you!