Belvidere man uses personal experience to help others

Sean Cramer leads a group in Belvidere that helps adults with disabilities learn valuable skills.
Published: Jul. 26, 2021 at 5:24 PM CDT
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ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) - One local man is using his own experience with a disability to help others in the community live better lives.

Sean Cramer leads a group in Belvidere that helps adults with disabilities learn valuable skills and improve communication so they can live a more independent life.

“We teach them how to relax,” Cramer said. “We teach them how to have fun, how to enjoy things.”

New Horizons is a group that uses leisure and recreation to help people with disabilities. Cramer uses his personal experience as a person who stutters and shares the challenges he faces every day.

“The sort of struggles that I’ve had to go through and sort of the obstacles that I’ve had to overcome definitely make me appreciative of the fact that I want that to happen for other people,” Cramer said.

Program staff members usually focus on daily activities, like trips to the grocery store or library, to build life skills. Something they couldn’t do during the pandemic.

“A big hallmark of our program is to really build on different leisure skills and so being able to be out, being able to be among the community, have exposure, is excellent,” Cramer said.

Participants like Carrie say being in the program is like spending time with their best friends.

“I’m happy about that too,” Carrie said.

Staff members say the biggest reward is to see a participant’s face light up when they accomplish something all on their own.

“Oh I love it,” said Belvidere Park District Special Recreation employee Alexa Nowikowski. “I’ve been here for six years so I absolutely just enjoy being here. You can definitely tell too when they’re enjoying it, they’re all going up there, they’re trying it. Just teaching them new skills too is always really rewarding.”

Cramer says the park district is always looking for staff or volunteers to help with the program, including weekly group meetings, field trips or even special Olympics.

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